SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has said that roundtable talks between the North’s largest parties must address proposals for reform and restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Speaking ahead of discussions between parties and the British Government in Belfast tomorrow, the SDLP Leader urged others to support the party’s proposal for a change to the rules for the election of a Speaker that would restore the Assembly and pave the way for a return to government.
Colum Eastwood MP said:
“It has become clear over recent weeks that negotiations between the British Government and the European Commission are making substantial progress toward a deal on the operation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The SDLP has been clear that our twin ambitions from this process are to secure dual market access for local businesses and to restore the democratic institutions in the North.
“It is regrettable that despite progress made toward a deal, that the institutions of government remain paralysed at the will of the DUP. Striking workers, sick hospital patients, hard-pressed families and ordinary people trying to get on with their lives continue to be denied effective representation and the basic expectation of a government that will defend their interests.
“The roundtable talks between parties and the British Government in Belfast cannot side step the elephant in the room. Reform and restoration of the Assembly and Executive is an urgent priority that demands progress here and now. The SDLP will again put our proposal for changes to the election of an Assembly Speaker to the parties in an effort to break the deadlock and send local politicians back to work in accordance with the mandate at last May’s election.
“Our proposal would require a coalition of nationalists, unionists and others to work together to support the nomination of a Speaker, excluding no tradition. Politicians cannot stand by while our health service collapses, while public sector workers endure pay regression and while inflation hurts hard working homes across our communities. We have a moral obligation and a political mandate to address these challenges. It is time for all parties to get back to work.”