DUP arrogance has recklessly endangered political institutions, says Long

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said that DUP arrogance has “recklessly endangered” the political institutions after the deputy First Minister resigned his position.

Mrs Long said the public clearly wanted the First Minister to step aside without prejudice for the duration of an inquiry into the RHI scandal but her “inability to swallow her pride” and her “belligerent attitude” had placed her party on a collision course with Sinn Fein, who with the resignation of Martin McGuinness had now raised the stakes and potentially set the course for an election.

“This is a head-on collision that has been building for some time. The DUP have continued to ignore the voices who reasonably asked the First Minister step aside voluntarily and without prejudice to allow a public inquiry into RHI, to get to the truth of this matter.

“Instead, they have chosen to escalate matters and treat their partners in Government, the Assembly and the public with contempt. Today’s resignation has brought to fruition a crisis which could have been averted with cool heads and calm leadership which put the interests of the people ahead of party political posturing.

“Massive issues remain on the table, in addition to the issue of an estimated £500 million overspend on RHI. Our budget is overdue, which will impact directly on public, community and voluntary sector organisations providing vital services to the public. We need a proper Brexit plan for Northern Ireland, which faces huge challenges in the coming months. But we now have the two parties who were entrusted with leadership responsibility abdicating it in favour of party political posturing and those matters remain unresolved.

“Arlene Foster needs to swallow her pride and step aside to facilitate an independent, judge-led public inquiry without delay, while Sinn Fein can play their part in de-escalating this situation by re-nominating a deputy First Minister. That’s what the public wants, not continued political games from these parties.

“If there is to be an election, Alliance is ready and prepared to fight it. But we also need to be clear – nothing will be fixed by it. We will return to the Assembly facing the same challenges of RHI, of the Budget impasse and of huge uncertainty over Brexit, but having squandered vital time in which to resolve them. The public have a right to expect better.”

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