Armstrong reiterates call for independent talks mediator after ‘draft agreement’ text published

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has reiterated calls for an independent mediator for talks, after the publication of text alleged to be a draft agreement between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

Journalist Eamonn Mallie published part of the text on his website this evening. He also claims ‘definitive proof’ of correspondence between senior personnel of both parties, including members of the DUP negotiating team, on February 9. This is despite subsequent DUP denials over any agreement.

“This is precisely why the talks process needs to open and transparent, and has needed to be from the beginning,” said Ms Armstrong.

“The past week has seen claim and counter-claim by the DUP and Sinn Féin over what was agreed and what was not, or even if any agreement existed. That not only diminishes trust between parties but also from the wider public due to conflicting accounts.

“It this text is to be believed, the DUP and Sinn Féin took onboard Alliance’s proposals around the Irish language and Ulster-Scots, which is to be welcomed, as they are the best solution to the current blockage.

“An independent mediator for the talks would eliminate the ‘he said, she said’ approach, while also injecting a fresh impetus to the overall process and allowing a more inclusive process which gives the public confidence people are working on their behalf to get the institutions restored.”

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