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NORTHERN IRELAND ASSEMBLY CANNOT CLAIM A MANDATE FROM VOTERS UNLESS ANY NEW AGREEMENT IS PUT TO A REFERENDUM.

My letter as published in the Belfast Telegraph.
The Belfast Telegraph contends (Viewpoint 10 February) that “The parties ….. will just have to accept that power-sharing is as good as it gets here …. “

This is a very depressing message to send to the Northern Ireland electorate and implies that people here are not to be trusted with full democracy.

There is already an appallingly bad democratic deficit in Northern Ireland. While the Belfast Agreement of 1998 was ratified by referendum, admittedly conducted against the backdrop of inexcusable republican and loyalist violence, it has since been modified substantially at St Andrew’s, Hillsborough and Stormont House without a further by your leave from the voters.

For eighteen months, the NI Assembly has been prevented from representing the people by a handful of MLAs and others whose motives seem far from any resemblence of democracy.

Your editorial asks, “…. what shape could a new deal take?” The question that should be asked is “What right have a faction of assorted MLAs to take the votes of those who elected them and barter them away in sordid horse-trading behind closed doors?” For this is, in reality, what the tedious 11 months of negotiations have amounted to. If the Assembly and Executive do resume their duties neither will be able to claim any mandate from the voters.

Only if all the significant threads of any new agreement are individually put to the Northern Ireland electorate in a referendum will our Devolved Government have any legitimacy.

The people of Northern Ireland have as much right to proper democracy the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The concept of power-sharing has been tried and found to be inadequate.

Alan Love.
Lisburn, Co Antrim

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