Assembly Election – Groundhog Day

What exactly would an Assembly election in December resolve?

There should, of course, be an immediate restoration of devolution, the election of a Speaker and First and Deputy First Ministers, and the return of a fully functioning Executive.

That can only be done if the DUP returns to Stormont.

The Realpolitik, then, is that the DUP is not going to return until there is significant and fundamental movement on the Northern Ireland Protocol. They remain as adamant on that as Sinn Fein was on its demands when they collapsed the Executive for three years between January 2017 and January 2020.

The DUP will refuse to participate in a new Executive for precisely the same reasons that they are abstaining now.

Technically, and legally, the Secretary of State is required to call another election if, six months after an election, no Executive has been formed. The DUP will refuse to participate in a new Executive for precisely the same reasons that they are abstaining now.

A December election will not resolve that situation and , arguably, will further polarise the community as both Sinn Fein and the DUP mount yet another divisive, sectarian and diversionary campaign.

We will end up in the same place we started but with the real issues effecting working people – the cost of living, austerity, cuts to services and benefits, lack of child care, low paid, part time, precarious employment, housing shortages and rapidly rising heating bills all side lined by their sectarian power struggles.

A restored Assembly will not address, let alone resolve, the major problems facing this community. In its chequered twenty year ‘on/off’ history it has been responsible for very little social, economic or political progress. The importance of a devolved administration is that it allows the major parties to be scrutinised and held to account, and, in progressive hands holds out the possibility of at least alleviating some of the hardships currently being experienced.

Neither a continued boycotting of the Executive, nor spending £6 million on an unnecessary election will do either.

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