The premise for this piece arises from the question. Brexit or the Belfast Agreement which is preferential as if one is allowed but not the other. Both when implemented beneficially was my positive response. Success comes from investing in the opportunities which are fundamental to the Belfast Agreement and obviously implicit within Brexit. When and only when Unionism and Nationalism make this place proud to be called our Country will it happen .
Right now the Agreement sits at the point of review after it has reached its sell by date. It requires rescue! Brexit on the other hand establishes a totally new definition for self-determination. Both need deep understanding and nurturing. It would be a momentous mistake to think that we can travel the Brexit journey having run out of road by shutting down the Belfast Agreement .
The shocking reality is that the defenders of unionism and the champions of republicanism are not in the slightest bit interested in restoring devolution. The animosity between the two is toxic. However neither appear willing to throw in the towel. None it seems either is content with being blamed for saddling us all with a lamentable detached direct rule shambles, particularly when the second rate service a downgraded NIO is exposed right across the spectrum. Frankly the public are increasingly intolerant and growing restless of those vacating and those filling the political vacuum.
While MLAs remain inactive and wrapped up in a £10 million costly cosy cocoon the erstwhile contract drawn up between the electorate and the party political elite is under threat. It is a glaringly clear fact for all to see that we deserve political cover at home which is homemade. We need immediate back yard protection of local mutual interests.
Here is an outline proposal for an Administrative Assembly which redirects the current stagnant landscape by suspending devolution. An elected Administrative Assembly is not an alternative to devolution. It entails: seventy member chamber elected by P.R. Nine members from six new county constituencies plus four each from Belfast north-south-east and west with a majority house leader and a minority house leader. Committees will mirror all Westminster departments and will scrutinise legislation and initiate debates thereon. Each committee will elect a chair and two deputy chairs. A rights committee will scrutinise the transfer of all laws etc transferred from the E.U. to Parliament following Brexit and will be chaired by a minority party nominee. The Assembly will adopt the legislative authority of Parliament and administer legislation accordingly. The Assembly can trigger a call for specific legislative action by Parliament on a 60% weighted majority. The Assembly can agree a review mechanism to restore full legislative devolution after a 3/5 year period. The Assembly can appoint representation onto the Policing Board. The Assembly will hold regular sessions with the Secretary of State and N.I.O. Ministers. All committees can call Ministers, Officials etc to question and answer sessions. The Majority House Leader and the Minority House Leader will have regular meetings with the Secretary of State. External affairs remain with the Government at Westminster. Costs should be in the range of salaries as follows. Majority House Leader £75k- Minority House Leader £70k – Chairs £60k – Deputy Chairs £55k – Members £45k. Party allowances to be agreed – Civil servant administrative service to be agreed. The Majority leader and the Minority leader will be jointly responsible for control of expenditure and budget costs and accountable to the Secretary of State.
Election – The government will suspend the Legislative Assembly if by 31st March there is failure to reach a lasting agreement on restoring devolution. Elections to an Administrative Assembly to take place in May 2019 on the same day as the local government elections.