Long warns talks will fail if leadership not shown

East Belfast MP Naomi Long has warned the current talks process will fail if other parties do not demonstrate more will to resolve the issues than has been demonstrated to date.

Mrs Long made the call during a Northern Ireland Questions session in the House of Commons in which she asked Secretary of State Theresa Villiers what lessons had been learnt from previous failed talks between parties and what outcome she expects from the current round.

Alliance MP Mrs Long said the talks, which are chaired by Ms Villiers, did not look hopeful, as they had been characterised thus far by ‘petty squabbling’ and failure to even agree who is participating.

“My constituency has seen repeated trouble at an interface over the past few nights, with a young boy being hospitalised, police officers injured and residents terrorised thanks to sectarian violence. Lack of political leadership to address sectarianism and to address the economic and political challenges we face simply cannot continue.

“There have now been several attempts to resolve the issues of the budget, institutional reform and issues like parades, flags and the past discussed during the Haass talks, so the public are already utterly frustrated at the inability to reach a consensus.

“I had hoped the Secretary of State would lay out clearly what sanctions there may be for those parties who fail to engage seriously and show leadership. Whilst she fell short of that, I made it clear being willing to do so is vital to any chances of success. Alliance is not game-playing and I hope the other parties will be clearly held to account if they are. The public deserve better.”

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