Examination of witness

Part of Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:21 pm ar 29 Mehefin 2021.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Emma Little-Pengelly:

The only thing I would want to reflect on, I suppose, is really where these proposals came from. As I have indicated, it was the DUP that pushed very hard for the sustainability aspects of the New Decade, New Approach agreement, and we did that very much because of the experience of the preceding three years, where Northern Ireland was left in a really appalling situation of not only having no local devolved Government, but having no real direct-rule Ministers either, so civil servants were left in the position where they had to try to make decisions with no accountability, no democratic accountability and no guidance.

I do not think the Bill is in any way perfect, but I do think it is progress. The key thing is to try to ensure that there is not that incentive for others to bring the institutions down and cause instability in a tactical way, and to recognise that at times there will be major constitutional issues—we are seeing that at the moment with protocol, for example—and other issues of serious concern that we have had before. In those situations, of course it is absolutely right for people to raise their personal concerns, their party concerns and their community concerns to say, “This is simply not sustainable as a way forward.”

I know that that cannot be prevented and should not be prevented, but ultimately, this is a step forward to try to encourage greater stability, which is much needed across Northern Ireland.