Brokenshire statement a missed opportunity – Farry

Alliance Party Deputy Leader, Stephen Farry, has responded to the statement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, on the political situation by expressing concerns that the opportunity was not taken for a more robust response, including establishing certainty around the budget.

Stephen Farry said: “This is a disappointing statement from the Secretary of State. It has missed the opportunity to be much more robust in pushing for agreement and maintaining the integrity of deadlines.

“The statement doesn’t address the fundamental reality that the talks in their current format seem to be at an impasse, with the DUP and Sinn Fein increasingly engaging in public recrimination. The issues between those parties may be few in number, but the divisions and mistrust between them is deep. And on those key issues, the parties have backed themselves into a dead-end.

“The opportunity to impose a meaningful deadline, to use incentives or disincentives to move, or to consider a different dynamic has not been taken.

“While Alliance remains committed and available to engage in talks in any format, we are not optimistic of meaningful progress in the coming days, and fear that the Secretary of State will need to respond further and more substantially later this month.

“While we do acknowledge his recognition of the potential need for him to intervene to provide further budget clarity over the coming weeks, we are disappointed at the complacency around the current and ongoing damage to the Northern Ireland economy and public services from this political impasse.

“Alliance remains a devolutionist party, but sadly in our view, the Secretary of State needs to be acting now rather than leaving for later to clearly confirm budgets. Every day that goes by carries significant opportunity costs.

“Northern Ireland is in a very dangerous place politically and economically. Increased political polarisation and intransigence are badly serving the people of Northern Ireland, particularly at a time when Brexit negotiations are unfolding. Now is the time for leadership all round.”

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