Newton Emerson: Does Northern Ireland need a civic forum that cannot collapse?

Having another body such as proposed civic forum could increase sustainability of institutions

One pertinent effect of having a second chamber might be people remaining in Stormont after Sinn Féin or the DUP walk out. File photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

One pertinent effect of having a second chamber might be people remaining in Stormont after Sinn Féin or the DUP walk out. File photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

A new mechanism for consulting civic society is a part of the Stormont talks, Alliance leader Naomi Long has revealed.

Hopes that public engagement might break the political deadlock in Northern Ireland have become so desperate that referendums have been seriously suggested – or at least, suggested by serious people – on same-sex marriage, abortion, an Irish language Act and the Brexit backstop.

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