Alliance stresses need for talks facilitator amidst dangerous deadlock

Alliance Party Deputy Leader, Stephen Farry, has responded to the poor prospects for successful inter-party talks in the autumn, again stressing what is at stake for Northern Ireland and reiterating his party’s call for the two Governments to urgently appoint an independent talks facilitator.

Stephen Farry said: “Alliance is up for fresh talks, anytime, anywhere. Prospects of fresh talks in the autumn are based more on hope than firm reality as things currently stand. The reaction of some other parties to this prospect probably adds more to a sense of despair. Yet things can change, and things must change.

“Northern Ireland badly needs strong and responsible leadership. This society could be doing so much better, but instead we are witnessing our public services deteriorating, and our economy is stagnating. Divisions and sectarianism seem to be increasing. Meanwhile, Brexit poses an existential threat to Northern Ireland. It is pulling this society apart. There is a clear need for a strong and coherent local voice that can deliver and manage special arrangements.

“Any new talks process needs to be informed by the lessons of recent past failures. A much more multilateral approach is required, which aids creativity and innovation. And most crucially, the two Governments urgently need to appoint a talks facilitator. This is essential to provide structure and challenge, and to manage a process including the status of papers and drafting proposed compromises. Appointing somebody forthwith would allow that person to read themselves in to allow any new talks to hit the ground running.”

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