SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has called on political leaders to show courage and reach an agreement to restore the Stormont institutions in the coming days.
Mr Eastwood was speaking in the House of Commons as MPs discussed the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill.
He also expressed solidarity with DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson who revealed he had been subjected to threats.
Foyle MP Mr Eastwood said:
“Families across the North are incredibly frustrated that we are nearly two years without a government and during that time life has gotten worse for so many people who want to see the institutions back up and running again and delivering for them. However, I believe that the legislation before the Commons today signifies that we are reaching the end of that process and I am hopeful that we will soon see a conclusion.
“I accept that space is required for an agreement to be reached, but I must also stress that people’s patience has been pushed to the very limit. Workers are still taking to the picket lines to fight for fair pay and conditions, hospital waiting lists continue to get longer and patients sicker, our public services are degrading and young people are leaving this place because they want to escape the political failure that has damaged so many lives.
“The SDLP brought forward two amendments today that would have made a real difference – we could have compelled the government to give public sector workers the pay rise they deserve and reformed the process to elect an Assembly Speaker so that no party could ever again collapse the Assembly on a whim or hold the North to ransom.
“I acknowledge the need to reform our political institutions and the SDLP has brought forward a number of proposals that would change the way we do politics for the better. To start that process, we need an Assembly and Executive back in place and for the results of the last Assembly election to be respected. Now is the time for political leaders to show courage, to take on those who continually thwart progress and do the right thing for everyone across the North.”