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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Carlow Nationalist — Northern Irish leaders urged to guarantee that Stormont will not collapse again

Rebecca Black, PA

Northern Ireland’s leaders have been urged to give a commitment that they will not collapse devolved government.

The Stormont Executive and Assembly was recently resurrected after a two-year collapse following the resignation of former first minister Paul Givan over his DUP party’s opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Prior to that, Sinn Féin collapsed devolved government for almost three years, from 2017 to 2020.

The leader of the official Opposition at Stormont, Matthew O’Toole, has written to First Minister Michelle O’Neill and deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly asking that they provide a guarantee that neither will use their position to collapse the institutions.

Stormont Assembly
Leader of Opposition Matthew O’Toole (PA)

Mr O’Toole previously made the same call on the floor of the Assembly.

He has said he will keep making the request until a commitment is made, saying without it a question will remain over institutional stability.

In his letter to the leaders, Mr O’Toole said he wants to lead an Opposition that is “positive, constructive and focussed on the real challenges facing people across Northern Ireland”.

He said only two people can collapse the power-sharing government, adding: “After all that we have endured over the last two years, and over the three previous years of abeyance, I am asking you again to provide a guarantee that you will not use your position to collapse the Executive”.

He added: “Such a commitment is, I believe, strongly in the public interest.

“Faith in our democratic institutions has been shattered by the failure to govern.”

 

Mr O’Toole added: “Many believed that the most recent collapse of the democratic institutions would be the final straw.

“I firmly believe that a further failure of power-sharing would put devolution beyond repair in the minds of most.

“A guarantee that you and your party will not bring down the Executive for the rest of this mandate would go some way to restoring lost confidence in our institutions.”

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