The collapse of the Stormont assembly

Statement by Northern Area Committee, Communist Party of Ireland
17 January 2017


The collapse of the Stormont assembly on Monday 16th January leaves the people of Northern Ireland facing regional elections on the 2nd of March this year. The issues that will confront the people will not be about the problems relating to working and living conditions, the loss of jobs and transferring of industry to other places, depleting of the Civil Service, privatisation of housing, the need for law reform regarding abortion and gay rights marriage and many other social and economic problems affecting the people here. Instead the election will focus upon sectarianism and upon the recent scandal of the Renewable Heat Incentive.
     Whilst recognising the central role that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) played in this matter, to some extent most of the parties in Stormont bear the responsibility for the situation, and only a full enquiry will expose those who are involved.
     If at the elections, a similar voting pattern emerges with DUP and Sinn Féin as the largest parties elected it begs the question what will happen? Will Sinn Féin refuse to take up the Deputy or First Minister post? Will the result be Direct Rule?
     In 1998 when the Good Friday Agreement was voted upon as a means of moving away from violence and conspiratorial politics, many people saw this as a positive step. Power sharing was a possibility after many year of majority rule by the Unionists.
     Of course one of the major parties that opposed the GFA was the DUP, and in spite of their involvement in the Stormont Government they have never embraced the idea of power sharing with nationalist, republicans and Catholics.
     The CPI believed that the GFA needs to be revisited especially on the question of the “Petition of Concern” which has been used by the DUP to block legislation and to stifle criticism of ministers. There is also a need to look at the re-establishment of the Civic Forum, the enactment of a Bill of Rights and the long overdue Irish Language Act.
     The CPI would also urge Trades Unions, community and women’s organisations to focus on these economic and human rights issues and to oppose the rise of sectarianism.

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