“There has been no meaningful engagement in the talks process since November. Further drift is not acceptable – our people are suffering, budgets are being cut, services are under extraordinary pressure and no decisions can be taken to alleviate any of that.
“The past year has seen not only a lack of political progress but also the already fractious relationships between several parties becoming even further damaged due to lack of respect, bad attitudes and a seeming unwillingness to resolve the issues on the table. Meanwhile, the patience of the public has been tested to breaking point. All of this poisons the political well and the longer it continues, the more difficult progress will be to achieve.
“The new Secretary of State needs to hit the ground running – we need to see all-party talks established immediately, so the DUP and Sinn Féin are not simply talking in a vacuum, with an independent mediator to give the entire process impetus.
“We are now in the 20th anniversary year of the Good Friday Agreement. While it is not perfect, it provides the principles and relationships underpinning our society. We cannot turn the clock back on that, but today there is a real danger all that progress is allowed to stall. The status quo is not sustainable. We cannot discard the agreement, so instead we must recommit ourselves to its values and engage in meaningful reform.”