Is the Northern Irish assembly too weak to make big political change?

Division and stagnation are two words that encapsulate the recent history of Stormont. Whilst the new abortion laws show a promising development in reproductive rights, the fact they had to come from Westminister is distressing. When Stormont cannot operate effectively it endangers the peace that has been kept in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday […]

Faye Navesey
11th April 2020
Division and stagnation are two words that encapsulate the recent history of Stormont. Whilst the new abortion laws show a promising development in reproductive rights, the fact they had to come from Westminister is distressing. When Stormont cannot operate effectively it endangers the peace that has been kept in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement.

Until January of this year, Northern Ireland had not had a devolved assembly in three years due to an inability of party leaders to form a power-sharing government. The divisions between the DUP and Sinn Fein have led to Stormont being completely inept and incapable of passing any legislation. The Good Friday agreement rests upon Northern Ireland having a degree of independence from Westminster and being able to pass legislation effectively, therefore the intervention of the British Parliament endangers this peace and shows how desperately change needs to be made so that Stormont can operate effectively and act as a voice for Northern Ireland, which has for much of British history been ignored.

The Good Friday agreement rests upon Northern Ireland having a degree of independence from Westminster

A large part of the problem in Northern Ireland is the divisions that exist between the two parties, these divisions are nothing new and have existed for centuries. However, due to the nature of the electoral system Stormont uses, the two sides are forced to enter into government together. Debates between the DUP and Sinn Fein are undoubtedly the cause of Stormont's inaction and inability to pass laws. The re-opening of Stormont in January provides some hope and suggests an increased willingness to compromise. The Coronavirus pandemic may also force the parties to work together to pass critical legislation, with the Deputy first minister saying that the two parties were united to save lives.

The re-opening of Stormont in January provides some hope and suggests an increased willingness to compromise

Stormont must be an effective government for the people of Northern Ireland, not only to maintain the integrity of the peace agreement, but also to give a voice to Northern Ireland and make sure that they can pass important legislation without being reliant on Westminister.

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