SDLP Assembly Chief Whip Dolores Kelly has said legislation is set to become the latest casualty of the dysfunction stemming from Sinn Féin-DUP.
She was speaking after Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey warned time pressures could stop a number of bills from being passed before the next election.
The Upper Bann MLA said:
“The real reason we are facing many important pieces of legislation falling by the wayside is because we are attempting to cram the work of a five-year mandate into a year and a half as a result of Sinn Féin’s decision to collapse the Assembly and their failure, with the DUP, to restore it. Some of the legislation currently passing through the Assembly would make a real difference to the lives of people here and it’s Sinn Féin-DUP failure that has placed us in this position.
“The situation has not been helped by the fact the Joint First Ministers are frequently at loggerheads and this has been reflected in the failure of their department to bring forward anything of substance since the return of the Assembly. Even during a pandemic they proved themselves unable to function together for the greater good.
“Sinn Féin’s collapse of the Assembly and failure of them and the DUP to restore it has had far-reaching impacts on people in the North. We saw no progress on health or education reform, our waiting lists for health and housing got longer and we are the only part of these islands without a proper plan to tackle climate change. The Assembly is now back up and running and little has changed.
“While I know MLAs will consider late and extra sitting days in an attempt to get as much legislation as possible over the line, the fact remains – they shouldn’t have to - and this will also result in additional pressures on Assembly staff.
“It’s important that all legislation receives the proper scrutiny and I know committees will do their best, but even working 24/7 it would be impossible to get everything passed. The fault for that lies directly at the feet of Sinn Féin-DUP who remain more interested in fighting amongst themselves than performing the duties of governing. They’ve had fourteen years in power and have delivered nothing tangible for people here.“