DUP North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey has said whilst some parties claim they want to reduce the size of government their bluff was called during the Stormont House Talks when they failed to agree to the DUP proposal to move to four MLAs per constituency in 2016.
“Since 2002, the DUP has led the way in campaigning for a reduction in the size of government in Northern Ireland. At that time we were the only party calling for reform. However, step by step we have been convincing others.
In recent days, and conveniently after an agreement was finally reached to cut the number of MLAs, the Alliance Party have been attempting to claim the reductions do not go far enough. The Alliance Party is being downright deceitful and hypocritical. During the Stormont House talks we proposed moving to four MLAs per constituency at the next election. Not one party, including Alliance supported this.
Four MLAs per constituency as soon as possible remains the DUP’s first-choice. However, we will honour the Fresh Start Agreement and move to five MLAs per constituency by 2021. At least this represents progress. Having offered no support during talks, as usual the Alliance Party is only concerned with a public showpiece in the Assembly. As ever for Alliance, the inconsistency of their position won’t get in the way of a bandwagon upon which they want to jump.
Whilst some told us there would never be any change because the 1998 arrangements were set in stone, and defeatist unionists claimed no change was possible, the DUP set out a strategy over a decade ago and continually worked towards our goal.
The Alliance Party likes to talk about change, but their change of heart on this issue comes too late. During talks they could have helped argue for the DUP’s long-held position, but that is obviously too much to expect when it would have delivered real and immediate change, not just some meaningless grandstanding on the floor of the Assembly.”