Alliance Deputy Leader Naomi Long has said suggestions that short cuts exist to setting up the Assembly are reckless, and that public confidence in the political process must be addressed.
Speaking in the run up to the Alliance Party Conference on Saturday, Naomi Long stated:
“Public confidence in the political process is already at a low ebb and people are, quite rightly, fed-up with the lack of political progress and the constant grand-standing of local parties and the Governments.
“The Secretary of State is absolutely right that the current situation of suspension cannot continue indefinitely; however, if he wants to see lasting progress made in the timescale he is outlining, which we in Alliance certainly do, then he needs to get a serious, intensive and inclusive process underway now which can actually address all of the barriers to restoration of the Assembly.
“However, it is not good enough just to set up the Assembly as was and hope it will all work out. The Governments know that the structural problems which plagued the last Assembly are still there. It would be reckless to attempt to restore the Assembly, without addressing those
weaknesses as part of the process.
“We must have a proper review of those structures, to ensure that any new Assembly is constructed on a firm foundation and is built to last. We simply cannot afford to take short-cuts to get the Assembly back on the road, knowing that the wheels will inevitably come off at the next bump.
“More ‘revolving-door’ devolution, lasting a matter of weeks or months and ending in further suspension or total collapse will simply serve to completely erode what little public confidence remains in the whole project. People need a restored Assembly which lasts long enough to
actually deliver on the issues which really matter to us all – health, education, the environment, the economy, water charges.
“While the two Governments have a particular responsibility in this process, it is way past time that the other parties asked themselves whether they are serious about consensus politics and delivering real leadership for the benefit of all, or whether they would prefer to
continue to shirk responsibility and just settle for direct rule, joint authority and a permanent sectarian stand-off.
“The posturing and game-playing must end now – parties need to be honest with the people about whether they have a genuine appetite for cross-party agreement, and if they are serious – get on with it.”