The Climate for Collective Responsibility

Article excerpt

ENDING the system of designating MLAs as unionist or nationalist is the Alliance Party's number one priority, leader David Ford is expected to tell delegates to the party's AGM in the Dunadry Hotel, Co Antrim, today.

While he will congratulate the members on their extraordinary achievement in holding on to six seats in the November Assembly elections, he will remind them that their vote was severely cut.

His argument "for the benefit of the slow learners in the other parties" is that "designations are divisive, illegal under European law, reinforce sectarianism, and don't work".

"The only realistic way of ensuring that sensitive issues attain cross-community support without sticking tribal labels on MLAs is to require a weighted majority to pass important measures - 60 to 65 per cent would be adequate - while ensuring that it does not become near-impossible to win a vote," he will argue.

It is a position which has placed the Alliance Party closer to the DUP, as has its second priority, namely the formation of a voluntary coalition, operating a programme backed by a weighted majority.

The Alliance Review document has also included "a meaningful opposition, with a significant role in governance", a position similar to David Burnside's recent proposals in the name of the Friends of the Union.

Mr Ford will argue very strongly-that "only an Executive formed on the basis of collective responsibility could possibly take on responsibility for justice". …