Below is the speech delivered yesterday by TUV leader Jim Allister during the Stormont debate on the review of d’Hondt, community designation and an opposition.
“Here we have another non-report by the Assembly and Executive Review Committee. It goes through the motions of a few platitudes here and there, presented by a Chairman, who dutifully reads out to us what is being presented and tells us all of the work that the Committee has done. However, when, at the end of that, one evaluates the report, one sees that it does not amount to a row of beans because we have been here so many times before.
“It is proof positive, yet again, that the House will never self-regulate itself into a functioning, recognisable democratic chamber because the vested interest is such that clutching all power by those who are in power is the overriding consideration. Yes: they can afford to pay a little lip service and say, “Oh yes: we would like to have an opposition”, but, in the same breath, just in case anyone would get out of line, they remind us, like Mr Hamilton did, how benign the dictatorship has been to the small parties by throwing them a few pounds to survive. I do not think that that washed with very many people.
“In the report, I read talk about a technical group. Last autumn, in the Committee on Procedures, I proposed that we should put in motion measures to allow for a technical group. Who voted that down? It was the ruling cabal of the DUP and Sinn Féin. Frankly, it does not impress me to now find some token talk about a technical group when the very parties that control the House blocked that move, prevented it from already being in place and, now, say that, perhaps, it could be considered.
“There is not a word in the report about revising the ludicrous situation in which only Executive parties are allowed to sit on the Business Committee, which determines the business of the House and ensures that no one from these Benches ever gets any business on to the Floor of the House. There is not a word to say that, perhaps, we should just allow the six Members who are outside the Executive parties to have a voice on the Business Committee. Oh no: we could not do that.
“It is no surprise, of course, that Sinn Féin is the party that champions the rejection of opposition. We are all too familiar with how the republican movement deals with opposition.
“The bullet in the head in terrorism has its parallel in the opposition from Sinn Féin in dealing with the very suggestion of an opposition in the House.
“Then, of course, we have some who pretend that they would like to move away from the architecture of the Belfast Agreement — the great pretenders in the House who pretend either that the Belfast Agreement does not exist or that they are not its prime implementers — when the truth is that they are its primary props, and without their propping role in the Assembly, the structures of the Belfast Agreement would not be in daily operation in the House.
“Of course, such is the contempt for the basic tenets of democracy that the cheerleaders and proposers of the fact that we should even disrespect the electorate by, without notice or consultation, moving the Assembly, which was elected for four years, to five years are again the ruling cabal. So, everything about this report speaks to the suppression of democracy. It is a matter of record that the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin supported the extension of the Assembly to five years to have the election in 2016. That is a matter of record. What do the people matter in the view of those who have such disrespect for democracy that they cannot even contemplate opposition in the House, such is their aversion and such is their attachment to the iniquitous Belfast Agreement the props of the Belfast Agreement — as stated day and daily.”