NDNA: New Approach to Government

Oral Answers to Questions — The Executive Office – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 16th November 2020.

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Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice 2:30 pm, 16th November 2020

T5. Mr Allister asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister how the new approach to government in Northern Ireland, which the New Decade, New Approach agreement boasted about, is going. (AQT 665/17-22)

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

Given that we only came back on 11 January — much to the delight of the Member — and that we then faced a global pandemic and given that we are in a five-party coalition, we are dealing with the issues in front of us. As leaders in our community of all five parties, we want to see resolutions happen. Sometimes, it does not look too pretty — we accept that — but that does not take away the fact that we want to find solutions and a way forward because we recognise that the people of Northern Ireland have put their trust in us.

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

Was last week's omnishambles not confirmation that, if a mandatory coalition cannot work even on what should be a unifying issue of public health, it will never work and it is a cruel deception on the people of Northern Ireland, who deserve better, to pretend that it will?

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

No. I do not accept that. The Member will not be surprised at that. As I have said, it was a very difficult week; it was a tortuous week. However, it is right that we try to take decisions that are balanced and proportionate and take into account the enormous pressure that our healthcare staff and hospitals are under but also recognise that people need to earn a living, otherwise they fall into poverty and fall into health outcomes that are very bad as well. So, look, I make no apology for trying to get to a balanced and proportionate place, and I think that that is where the people of Northern Ireland want us to get to as well.