Hanna: Progress on Brexit Talks demands Progress on Assembly Talks
The South Belfast MLA said:
"The SDLP welcomes the news today that the Brexit negotiations have passed into phase 2. Whatever your view on Brexit; and we think it is a disaster; a no-deal crash out would be catastrophic for everyone.
"We commend the Dublin Government for a firm but fair approach throughout the negotiations so far, aiming to protect both the economy north and south and all citizens on this island, Irish and otherwise, from the worst impacts of Brexit.
"London have discovered and begun to accept over recent months that several of their aims are incompatible and we hope that their position continues to evolve in phase 2.
"However, there is a deep irony in the fact that the whole of Europe is now resolved to protecting the Good Friday Agreement, while the Assembly created by it is silent.
“Sinn Féin Conor Murphy's comments today, in a statement attacking the SDLP, that "rights and equality is the only basis for the restoration of the political institutions" is a good soundbite, but how will Conor Murphy and Sinn Féin deliver and protect rights without using the political power they have been given.
"Sinn Féin can continue its stand-off with the DUP, and all the while our public services suffer and neither rights nor reconciliation are progressed in any way.
“What is Sinn Féin strategy? Just wait for the DUP to change its mind and bring the legislation that Sinn Féin never got round to tabling? The solution to bad government isn't no government, and none of the issues facing us is improved by a year or more of stagnation and polarisation, casting nationalists as powerless victims and maintaining the veto the electorate took off the DUP in March.
"No matter how long parties exclude themselves and relax into entrenchment, the answer will still be dialogue, partnership and compromise. Instead of refusing to even talk, Sinn Féin and the DUP must get round the table to resolve this mess. MLAs are elected to represent people here, not just to protest and lobby others and it is a dereliction of duty to allow Brexit to happen over our heads without taking our mandated role in developing solutions.”