Farry says talks process in serious danger of losing momentum

Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA has said the talks process is in serious danger of losing momentum, as it was confirmed the UK Government has sought to delay the legal requirement to call an Assembly election.

The August deadline for the obligation by the Secretary of State to call a poll will be pushed back to at least October due to the ongoing impasse.

“Talks are still continuing, and haven’t been suspended. But rather than seeing momentum and intensity building towards an agreement, we are in danger of seeing momentum lost,” said Dr Farry.

“After nine weeks of this particular phase of talks, and an impasse of 30 months, people have every right to see and expect more progress than we have to date.

“The current set of issues are not any more difficult that any of the other challenges faced at different times over the past 25 years, but for some reason they have become more intractable. The gaps between the parties may be narrow, but the trenches have been dug deep and we are in danger of an attritional approach focusing on one or two issues at the expense of the much bigger picture of the future of our society, along with our public services and economy.

“There was an easier window of opportunity to get an agreement to restore and sustain the institutions before the end of June. As time goes on, the external environment with a change of Prime Minister and Brexit becomes even more complicated.

“Alliance has been and will continue to play a full part in getting devolution restored as soon as possible. We have actively sought solutions to the conflicts blocking that and will continue to work with other parties to reform the institutions to make them sustainable.”