Long reiterates call for independent talks mediator with Secretary of State

Alliance Leader Naomi Long has reiterated her party’s call for an independent mediator in her first meeting with the new Secretary of State.

Mrs Long was speaking after meeting Karen Bradley for the first time in her new role. She said it was a positive and constructive meeting.

“It is clear the Secretary of State is willing to take a fresh approach to the talks process, which is important if we are to inject some kind of momentum. It is vital she listens to the parties and it appears she will do just that.

“We once again raised the matter of an independent mediator in the meeting. The process has run aground and every day this hiatus continues, we see the political well become more poisoned. But things can be resolved if the will is there and the best way to test that is appoint an independent facilitator, who can put a fair compromise on the table and see whether the parties will accept it.

“Ultimately, it is not the Secretary of State who will dictate the success of any talks but rather the local parties, who need to show a commitment to seeing the Assembly restored. We have to take responsibility, be grown-ups and recognise the implications of failure for the people we represent.

“Until that happens, it doesn’t matter who is Secretary of State, we will continue to stretch the patience of the public beyond its limit and place at risk all of the progress achieved over the last 20 years.”

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