Assembly is a 'blot on the democratic landscape'

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The Northern Ireland Assembly was a "blot on the democratic landscape", the TUV leader said on 4 March 2013.

Jim Allister said this was because it did not have an official opposition.

"We deny the very right of an opposition to exist and function by saying to the voters of Northern Ireland, oh yes, you can vote but you can never change your government'," he said.

Mr Allister was speaking on a motion brought by the UUP which focused on aspects of the draft Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provision) Bill.

The Westminster bill seeks to improve the operation of the Assembly.

The UUP motion asked the other parties to support a commitment in the bill to bring double-jobbing to an end and to ask all parties to play a "full role at Westminster".

Stewart Dickson of the Alliance Party referred to Sinn Fein's candidate, Francie Molloy, who is standing in the Mid-Ulster by-election.

The election is to determine the replacement for Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness who said he resigned as the MP for Mid-Ulster in order to meet his party's commitment to end double-jobbing.

Mr Dickson said that due to Sinn Fein's abstentionist policy, where none of its MPs take their seats at Westminster, some voters would feel that their vote would be lost and they would not have representation at Westminster.

Sinn Fein's Raymond McCartney defended his party's position.

"We have five Westminster MPs - they offer a constituency service - I will say on record that there's not too many people who have come publicly or to our constituency and said we are not representing them," he said.

Polling for the by-election takes place on 7 March. The SDLP's Patsy McGlone, Alliance Party member Eric Bullick and Unionist Unity candidate Nigel Lutton are also standing.

Deputy Speaker John Dallat said he was "not happy" after a number of exchanges took place between Mr Allister, the UUP's Tom Elliott and a number of Sinn Fein MLAs.

The Alliance Party amendment fell and the UUP motion was passed on a vote division

The first part of the debate can be viewed here.

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