SDLP Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone has said that the principles of peace and power sharing are more important that personal political gain as he confirmed that he would not accept the post of Speaker of the Assembly in the absence of an Executive.
Mr McGlone said that a shadow Assembly with no Executive, no North South institutions and no prospect of restoration in the short term would be a fundamental row back on the agreement forged by John Hume and others.
He said, “People like John Hume, Seamus Mallon and others spilled their sweat to forge institutions that brought our people closer together. The peace that they built included a local Executive, where people representing the two major traditions on this island would be compelled to set aside their differences and work in our substantial common interest. It included North-South institutions to give voice to the desire of Irish nationalism for closer integration across this island. It was never supposed to be an Assembly alone, which would have suited hard-line unionism which does not want to cooperate with nationalism.
“I was offered the position of Speaker of the Assembly today. But I cannot set aside the principles of power sharing and all that others have worked so hard to build in favour of temporary personal political gain.
“I am a pro-life politician. I believe strongly in the protection of the unborn. I oppose the terms of the legislation set to be introduced from Westminster and that’s why I took my place in the Assembly chamber this afternoon. It was however confirmed by the current Speaker that the failure of the DUP and Sinn Féin to form an Executive, which I would have supported, means that we were unable to stop the legislation. Those parties must account for their failure to the people they represent.
“The SDLP has made proposals aimed at bridging the gaps and restoring an Executive – reform or suspending the Petition of Concern to allow issues like these to be decided on my an Assembly free from the threat of veto. Other parties should join us and restore power sharing so that we can act in the best interests of those who elected us.”