Long says onus on Secretary of State to inject urgency into devolution talks

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said the onus is on the Secretary of State to inject urgency into talks to get devolution delivering again for people.

Mrs Long was speaking ahead of the two-year anniversary of the collapse of power-sharing following Martin McGuinness’ resignation as deputy First Minister. Mrs Long wrote to other party leaders yesterday (Monday) to request meetings to seek a way forward.

“If this was any other January, MLAs would be coming back to prepare for the Assembly term ahead – taking part in committees and preparing legislation. Instead, we are now two years into the current suspension and there seems to be little or no focus on ending it,” she said.

“Yesterday, several Alliance MLAs took part in the We Deserve Better march to Stormont. It conveyed public frustration at the lack of any progress towards restoration. My colleagues and I share that frustration and are increasingly angry at the opportunities for Northern Ireland being wasted during this impasse.

“We need devolution functioning with a focus on resolving not just the current political disputes, but also the massive challenges facing our public services and hitting our constituents hard.

“Continuing with this malaise is just not sustainable. Alliance has put solutions on the table – our Next Steps Forward document – almost a year ago. We outlined constructive suggestions to re-establish devolution and get MLAs back to doing their full job.

“The onus is on the Secretary of State to either act on those proposals or come forward with better ones. Continued drift is not acceptable either to MLAs or, more importantly, the public we serve.”
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