Claire Sugden, Independent Unionist MLA for East Londonderry spoke in Stormont today on the current crisis facing Northern Ireland’s political institutions.
Miss Sugden said:
“I will begin by saying how privileged I feel to stand here and represent East Londonderry in the Northern Ireland Assembly. While we now find ourselves in exceptional circumstances I will continue to do the job I was entrusted with, while I can. 100 000 constituents expect me to represent them in this House.”
“This House of cards is falling Mr Speaker. The only good that will come out of this is if the jokers at the top coming crashing down too and do not get up again. I am concerned because we have so much to lose. Not just the message that Northern Ireland has failed, but the prospect of being governed by people who don’t know us; understandably are fed up with us and won’t fight for the people or sell our country for the potential it has like we can.”
“Events that unfolded on Thursday make me very sad.”
Miss Sugden continued by highlighting the issues facing a constituent due to the resignation of the Health Minister.
“My constituent, Mr Watton and I know he won’t mind me saying his name, has been waiting for a disabled parking bay for over six months. Mr Watton is very ill, it takes him all strength to walk several feet and he is certainly entitled to this space. He is entitled to a public service that will make his life a little bit easier while he focuses his strength on his day to day struggles. He won’t get his disabled parking bay, because the Minister and then the Committee need to sign it off. The first one doesn’t exist.”
“Mr Watton is only a small piece of the puzzle of Northern Ireland. The bigger picture is ruined, however, when one piece is missing. The collapse of our institutions are being felt from the people up while politics is being played badly from the top down.”
The events that have unfolded since the death of Mr McGuigan are really quite unbelievable. A lot of big decisions have been made on ‘what if?’. It goes further in my belief that many who sit in this House are not fit for the job. Yes, I appreciate you were given a mandate, but I really don’t think the people expected this nonsense when they trusted you with their vote.
The MLA then concluded by giving her own interpretation of the situation, saying the following:
“My interpretation of what is really happening here is deflection and election. Mr Speaker there are people bleeding this country dry and the current events are providing a very convenient smoke screen. I see it in my own constituency. Our drug problem is often hidden by the contentious issues. But Mr Speaker these people will be caught and I look forward to the day, because the people of Northern Ireland deserve better and I trust they will realise this come next election.”
“Whether in a month or May next year we have an election. Mr Speaker there is nothing wrong with electioneering. But electioneering should begin the day after you are elected to earn the Mandate you were given, not in panic to get one over on your competitor. As an Independent, I probably have more than most to lose in an early election, but it’s not about me, it’s about the people I represent. If losing my seat and never speaking a word in this Chamber again means that we will move forward positively, then by all means, bring it on.”
“But it won’t. I believe that Northern Ireland will only truly move on when those people involved in the Troubles are no longer in politics. For the good of the people you claim to represent, move on, step aside if you will and encourage, young politicians like Gary Middleton, Steven Agnew, Chris Lyttle, Claire Hanna, Megan Fearon, Sandra Overend and me to be the future so that Northern Ireland and these institutions have a chance.”