Secretary of State needs to explain what is holding back talks, says Long

The Secretary of State needs to explain to the public what is holding back the talks process, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MEP has said.

After a new ‘intensive period’ of talks were promised earlier this year, the process has again drifted. Mrs Long said bar some limited meetings between parties and the two Governments, the talks were “essentially dormant”.

“This is simply not good enough. Power-sharing devolution and the operation of the other institutions of the Good Friday Agreement are the only means of providing good governance for Northern Ireland. Ongoing delays are continuing to undermine our public services and our economy,” she said.

“Northern Ireland is falling further and further behind what is happening in other jurisdictions and we risk long-term damage. People’s quality of life and future opportunities are at stake. The opportunity to reach agreement may have been a little easier a few months ago, but the even more difficult external environment today cannot be an excuse of inaction.

“With a no deal Brexit looming, Northern Ireland is otherwise heading to direct rule. This would not only be ineffective, but divisive and counterproductive. The Secretary of State has a duty to publically explain what is holding back the talks process and how he plans, in conjunction with the Irish Government, to energise what is a failing process.

“Alliance remains committed to playing a full role in a meaningful talks process. We are not walking away from anything. But there is also a need for the biggest two parties to step up so together all parties can agree a sustainable way forward.”