Long says time for Secretary of State to stop creating new barriers to devolution restoration

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said it is time for the Secretary of State to stop creating new barriers to the restoration of devolution and convene all-party talks with an independent facilitator immediately.

Mrs Long was speaking following a meeting with Karen Bradley, in which the Secretary of State briefed Alliance and other parties about legislation giving civil servants more powers in the absence of Ministers.

“Today’s meeting was not just a pointless exercise concerning legislation which is already making its way through Parliament, but was actually counterproductive, showcasing relationships between some parties, and indeed parties and the Secretary of State, are at an all-time low.

“The Secretary of State should be removing barriers to progress, not putting new ones down. That is effectively what she did today by telling parties she wants a consensus on the format of talks. She has already taken the views of all parties, so she needs make a decision. Convene all-party talks with an independent facilitator and put it up to the parties – if they are not willing to come and talk, they can be held accountable. The public, like us, are sick of the posturing.

“The longer this process drifts, the further we are from the restoration of the institutions. There is a perfect opportunity tomorrow at the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference for the Secretary of State to speak to the Irish Government, agree how talks are going to be structured, and announce both the independent chair and a start date. Everyone’s patience has finally run out.”

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