An Alliance Party delegation today met with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, and stressed the need to end the drift around talks but to make changes to improve the prospect of progress.
Stephen Farry said: “An Alliance delegation had a frank meeting with the Secretary of State. Northern Ireland is stuck in a prolonged impasse. Direct rule is not a viable option for multiple reasons and a further election will not change much. Meanwhile Northern Ireland continues to corrode with public services struggling and the economy stagnating. The only alternative is talks to provide restored and reformed power-sharing.
“We have been increasingly concerned at the drift and inaction over the course of this year. There urgently needs to be a change of pace. But simply reconvening talks on the same model that failed before would likely lead to further failure. Therefore, we have stressed two things that the Governments need to do.
“The first is to appoint a talks mediator. This person can work between the parties and provide better structure, including overcoming the contested management of papers that plagued the February process. Time is being wasted through not getting on with this appointment and allowing the person to read themselves in.
“The second lies in changing the nature of the debate through the UK Government legislating to reform the Petition of Concern. This puts it up to both DUP and Sinn Fein and tests their sincerity over their commitment to devolution. The DUP have already said that they have no preconditions and this therefore should not alter that, while for Sinn Fein this gives the opportunity for many equality issues to be resolved on the floor of the Assembly democratically.”