Long: SOS must end hands off approach with DUP and Sinn Féin

Alliance Leader Naomi Long has said people should not be fooled that this latest missed deadline will not have implications for everyone in Northern Ireland.

She said: “We want to see devolution restored, but for that to happen the Secretary of State needs to end the hands off approach with DUP and Sinn Féin which is getting us nowhere fast. It’s long past time an independent mediator was brought in – something the Alliance Party called for before the summer – to give focus and structure to negotiations, and deliver a more inclusive process.

“A budget bill at Westminster is seen as a “do no harm” position by the Government, but it leaves Northern Ireland in a no man’s land, between devolution and direct rule.

“Whilst it allows civil servants to spend the remainder of this year’s budget, that money will have to be spent in line with priorities and policies established by the previous Executive. Without either devolved or direct rule ministers in place, there is no-one to take key decisions for Northern Ireland’s future, such as whether to mainstream successful pilot schemes, implement new policy, redirect funds towards changed priorities or conduct necessary policy reforms. As a result, NI is falling behind further.

“The current situation simply cannot continue indefinitely, and that includes with regards MLA pay. I welcome the fact that the Secretary of State has finally indicated he intends to address that issue.

“The anger and frustration of the public is very much shared by our MLAs, who want to see NI make progress and to get back into the Assembly to deliver for people, rather than watching as the institutions lose what little credibility they have left as a result of an unwillingness to grasp the nettle and deal proactively with the drift on this and wider issues.”

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