Northern Ireland

Stormont to be abolished in the longer term, but remain during transition to new Ireland, Mary Lou McDonald suggests

Sinn Féin leader cautions against major reform of veto power of largest parties

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said Israel ‘must be held to account’
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Brian Lawless/PA)

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald believes the Stormont assembly may continue operating in the transition to a new Ireland, but suggested ultimately it will be abolished.

In the shorter term, the Dublin TD said discussions should happen over reform of the veto power of the largest parties nearly two years after the DUP collapsed the Executive.

But Ms McDonald added that the foundations of power sharing, including parity of esteem, cannot be disturbed, suggesting she is against fundamental change to the veto power.

On whether Stormont should continue to operate in a united Ireland, Ms McDonald told the Sunday Business Post: “I can see arguments on both sides of the question.”

She said: “For me in in the medium and long term, the premium needs to be placed on government being efficient and effective. So I do not believe that we simply should have duplication for the sake of it. So that would be important.”

The DUP are continuing to veto the formation of an executive
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald appears to be opposed to any fundamental reform of veto power

“What I want is a system of governance that is very connected with people, that’s accessible, that is transparent for people, and that is efficient and delivers. We do not want to create more layers of bureaucracy, or more barriers to efficient decision making and delivery island wide.”

Ms McDonald added: “”Could you envisage a transitional scenario where you would have the Stormont assembly for a period of time? Maybe. We’d have to examine all of those questions.”

The Sinn Féin leader was also questioned over the veto power of the largest parties, and ability to collapse the Executive and Assembly. The DUP is blocking Stormont from operating, while Sinn Féin’s 2017 walk out ultimately led to a three-year hiatus.

She described inclusion and cross-community consent as being “still a very necessary part of politics north of the border”.

“I think the conversation about reform has to happen. But we need to be mindful that the bedrocks of power sharing around parity of esteem and inclusion, that those foundations aren’t disturbed,” Ms McDonald said.

“The protections are in the system for a reason . . . I think that inclusion is still a very necessary part of politics north of the border.

“I think it’s timely and I think it’s an important conversation. But we need to have the conversation with our eyes wide open, and not throw out the baby with the bathwater.”