Long: Leaders must come together to restore powersharing

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has called for a meeting of all party leaders in the Assembly, to agree a timetable for talks aimed at restoring powersharing.

Mrs Long – who wrote to other party leaders last week – said she was still hopeful the planned meeting for September 3 would go ahead, despite the DUP’s attempts to shift blame elsewhere, and would see all leaders join together to decide on format and dates for talks to begin as soon as possible.

“There continues to be growing frustration at the lack of any discernible effort to restore the devolved institutions and deliver government for the people of Northern Ireland,” she said.

“It comes at a crucial period, as Brexit and all of its challenges continue to be addressed in the absence of any representative voice for Northern Ireland. Given the implications for this region, devolution is even more critical than before, yet it appears to have been parked until Brexit is resolved.

“Ultimately, the responsibility for this collapse and finding agreement lies primarily with local parties. We need to ensure Northern Ireland is effectively governed and there is no doubt we are all failing to do that. We can’t tolerate that any more – the people who elected us expect better of us.

“While there are still key issues which divide the parties, I hope the desire to better serve those who elected us represent a point of agreement on which we can start to build.

“Despite the DUP’s attempts to play down my invitation, and to look to put blame elsewhere, that Party must accept the role it has played and continues to play in holding Northern Ireland to a standstill. I hope to see Arlene Foster next Monday, allowing the DUP to prove through actions that they are dedicated to securing Northern Ireland’s future and not just cheap political stunts.

“I look forward to a positive response from the other leaders and hope we can agree a clear plan going forward.”

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