Long says several issues not resolved in Stormont House Agreement

Alliance MP Naomi Long has said the Stormont House Agreement is just the latest “agreement about reaching agreement,” with several significant issues parked without any tangible progress having been made.

East Belfast MP Mrs Long was speaking after a statement regarding the Agreement by Secretary of State Theresa Villiers in the House of Commons today (Wednesday) in which she laid out its details to MPs.

Alliance’s Party Executive will vote on whether to accept the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement tomorrow but Mrs Long said whilst parts of it were welcome and positive, the final agreement fell well short of the comprehensive agreement Alliance had sought.

“There are certainly parts that have to be hailed, in particular those aspects dealing with the past, which reflect many Alliance proposals for taking this issue forward in a way that is sensitive and respectful of the wishes of victims.

“The immediate financial crisis facing the Executive has also been alleviated; however, the real test will be the ability of parties to agree a coherent plan to put our finances on a stable footing in the longer term, as most of the additional finance offered is in the form of borrowing the cost of which will need to be met in due course.

“Despite this progress, the Stormont House Agreement does not provide the solution we need to address two of the most destabilising political issues of recent years, those of flags and parades. Instead, it merely kicked the can further down the road.

“As another marching season rapidly approaches and with new shadow councils having to take decisions shortly regarding symbols and emblems on council buildings, these matters have the potential to cause further turmoil in Northern Ireland.

“Far from providing a solution to either issue, the failure to make any progress in these respects proves again other parties have no willingness to address these issues with maturity, so we can focus on creating confidence and stability across the community.

“I would, therefore, press both Governments to not treat the Stormont House Agreement as the end of a process, but rather continue working intensively with the parties here to find a true resolution on these key political issues that will allow our community to move forward to more stable and positive future.”

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