Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood MP has urged party leaders to support Joint Authority if the Stormont institutions cannot be restored.
Mr Eastwood wrote to Stormont party leaders on Wednesday asking them to support Joint Authority from both the British and Irish governments if an Assembly and Executive is not formed in the coming months.
He said that while the SDLP’s first preference was to have local politicians taking decisions on behalf of people here, there can be no return to direct rule from Westminster.
Foyle MP Mr Eastwood said:
“Given the uncertainty around the future of our political institutions and speculation around a way forward in the absence of an Assembly and Executive, I think we need to have clarity for people here around the next steps if the DUP continue their boycott.
“The prospect of a disintegrating Tory party running Northern Ireland from Westminster would rightly concern people here. They have shown they are totally unfit to govern and any attempt to assert more control here in the form of direct rule would be undemocratic and could not command broad support.
“We want to see our institutions restored, we have been clear that is the best way of dealing with the issues impacting people in our communities. From the cost of living emergency to our huge health service waiting lists, people are struggling, but there appears no prospect of progress in the immediate future, with the DUP refusing to do their jobs and the outcome of negotiations between the EU and the new British government unclear.
“We cannot allow the situation to drift aimlessly and the SDLP has been firm there can be no return to direct rule from Westminster. I’m asking every party leader to acknowledge the situation facing us and to back Joint Authority from both the British and Irish governments to provide stability in the months ahead. Any failure to acknowledge the active role the Irish Government current plays in the North’s affairs would be disingenuous in the extreme and I believe this solution is in keeping with the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement and gives us the best chance of finding an agreed way forward.”