Long: NI must seize opportunity following Scottish no vote

Northern Ireland’s politicians must face up to their devolved responsibilities, Naomi Long MP has said, as the debate over the new constitutional settlement for the UK gets underway in the wake of Scotland voting no to independence.

The Alliance MP for East Belfast was speaking after results overnight revealed a victory for the no campaign. She added that the time for petty political point scoring was over and that politicians must put public before party if Northern Ireland is not to be disadvantaged in any future discussions over the balance of devolution across the UK.

Naomi Long MP said: “The people of Scotland have made their decision clear and have chosen to remain within the Union, opening up the very real prospect of wider discussion around the balance of devolved powers across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and in England itself.

“While Scotland has been pushing for greater devolution – or possibly independence – Northern Ireland’s politicians seem incapable of exercising the current set of devolved powers in a mature way, typified by recent suggestions of a desire to allow Westminster greater decision making control. This is nothing short of embarrassing and at odds with the direction of travel across the UK.

“There will now be a new constitutional settlement for the UK, which will have potentially significant impact on Northern Ireland. Worryingly, the current immaturity displayed regularly by some of our so-called political leaders makes it almost impossible for Northern Ireland to be taken seriously in talks – never mind getting the best deal out of any changes.

“Our politicians must face up to their current devolved responsibilities, putting what the public needs ahead of their own party agenda. They cannot continue to toy with our political process, putting at risk important public services and resources, and then expect to secure greater standing and influence in the national debate with England, Scotland and Wales.

“Whilst Alliance remains committed to enhanced devolved powers for Northern Ireland, that case can only effectively be made in the context of an effectively functioning Assembly that can demonstrate to the people of Northern Ireland that it can exercise its current powersin their best interests.”

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