Long says key challenge for Intergovernmental Conference is helping restore devolution

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has welcomed the first British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in over a decade but said its key challenge is helping restart talks to restore devolution here.

Mrs Long was speaking after the meeting, between Ministers from both Governments, took place in London. It discussed legacy, security co-operation, east-west relations and political stability in Northern Ireland. It will meet again in the autumn.

“Despite the length of time to arrange this meeting and arguments over the format, it is welcome the two Governments have met again in a formal capacity, no matter the set-up,” said Mrs Long.

“In this time of massive political uncertainty, we need much more structured engagements between the UK and Irish Governments, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. The ongoing situation relating to the lack of an Executive is not sustainable and the key challenge for any Governmental meeting, now or in the future, is helping restart talks and identifying an independent chair.

“Alliance’s Next Steps Forward document suggested a number of steps which could be taken to get devolution re-established. One of them was the reconvening of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, so it is important others, such as appointing a talks mediator ahead of intensive talks, are also followed through on immediately.”

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