Cameron issues ‘apology’ over Assembly collapse

Pam Cameron.
Pam Cameron.

Outgoing South Antrim MLA Pam Cameron has spoken following Tuesday’s Stormont debate on the Assembly crisis.

The DUP representative said: “First and foremost, I want to say sorry to my constituents for the failure of this Assembly to function properly and that they are being asked to go to the polls again. I deeply regret that and can only apologise to them. It is not what I want, nor is it, I suspect, what most members in the Assembly want.

“This is not the first time that the Assembly has collapsed in crisis. Over the years, it has collapsed, been suspended and been reviewed, and it remains to be seen whether it can be returned. One thing is common to all these failures: the role of Sinn Féin.”

Mrs Cameron slammed her party’s former partners in the Executive, continuing: “It seems to be the case that it does not matter who is in government: if Sinn Féin is not getting what it wants, we have to have a crisis. It does not matter whether the coalition is mandatory or voluntary: if Sinn Féin is involved, we are all subject to Gerry’s latest plan, and there is nowhere to go if you will not play ball.

“As we head to the polls, I will be listening to my electorate, not Sinn Féin. I bitterly regret the mess of RHI and the effect that it has had on the public purse and on public confidence in the Assembly, but perhaps it is a wake-up call that we all need to put public services first and repay the faith of those who sent us here.

“One thing I am confident of is that when it comes to defining what is right, truthful and just, I am much more content with Arlene Foster’s definition than I will ever be with that of Gerry Adams.”

With Sinn Féin refusing to nominate anyone for deputy First Minister after the previous week’s resignation of Martin McGuinness, the move to an election was seen as inevitable.

Speaking at Stormont on Monday, Health Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “If something is broken, you stop and you fix it. Today Sinn Féin will not re-nominate for the position of deputy First Minister.”

Along with Mrs Cameron, the other outgoing South Antrim MLAs are her DUP colleagues Paul Girvan and Trevor Clarke, Alliance’s David Ford, Sinn Féin representative Declan Kearney and UUP’s Steve Aiken.

It was unclear at time of going to press how many of them will be contesting the election and who else will join the fray, but with the electorate returning one fewer representative this time - the number of MLAs in all constituencies is reducing to five - another close contest is anticipated.