Alliance challenges DUP and Sinn Fein to energise talks process

Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA has expressed concerns at the lack of structure and momentum in the current talks process, questioning the commitment of both the DUP and Sinn Fein to reaching a sustainable outcome.

He said there seemed to be “little engagement, structure or momentum” in the talks process, complete with a shortage of ideas.

“This week should be a time when we see efforts to restore devolution re-energised. We should not even be in this position to begin with but yet there seems to be little engagement, structure, never mind momentum in the talks process, plus a shortage of ideas.

“Brexit has unfortunately put the constitutional question back on the table, and made it much harder to create and sustain any sense of a common good for Northern Ireland necessary to maintain coherent and effective government.

“Devolution is the only viable form of government in the divided society and contested space that is Northern Ireland. In particular, the need for accountable self-government is brought into sharper focus on an almost daily basis, with the current proposed in-year health cuts the most pressing issue, and our voice is going unrepresented in crucial Brexit negotiations in which the fate of Northern Ireland and the Irish border are at the top of the agenda.

“At present, we see both the DUP and Sinn Fein playing cynical games, talking about their commitment to talks and devolution while their actions belie these rhetorical commitments. DUP MPs are now increasingly demanding Direct Rule and relying on the influence they have with the Conservative Government to manage Northern Ireland through the backdoor.

“Sinn Fein seemingly continue to ride two horses, keeping open the options of pursuing their wider, and legitimate, constitutional aspirations, through Northern Ireland becoming perceived as a failed state under Tory rule and hard Brexit chaos. Little, if any, effort is being made to find any cross-community consensus on what a special deal or special status under Brexit could look like. Furthermore, they are trying to distance the absence from an Executive from the ever-growing crisis in our public services, running contrary to the clear logic of the situation.

“As the two largest parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein need to prove they are genuine about wanting to see the political institutions restored and they have no ‘Plan B’ by both word and deed. They can start this through energising an inclusive talks process.”

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