22/10/2019

NI Secretary Urged To Hold Intensive Stormont Talks

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Julian Smith is under pressure to call an intensive round of all-party talks to break the Stormont deadlock.

The Ulster Unionists urged the MP for Skipton and Ripon to intervene in the wake of a messy Assembly session on Monday, during which the DUP attempted to block the extension of abortion rights to women in Northern Ireland.

Monday's return to the Assembly came 1,008 days since power-sharing broke down in 2017, with many implying that events in the chamber have pushed the region further away from the return of devolved government.

UUP Leader Robin Swann said the Secretary must act in the absence of political will and ability to debate the issues facing Northern Ireland.
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"Unfortunately in the current atmosphere, if today is anything to go by, it would appear that future meetings of the Assembly can only lead to a further deterioration in relationships," the north Antrim MLA commented on Monday.

A recall petition tabled by the party for Tuesday has since been withdrawn.

"Some may ask is Stormont worth saving?" Mr Swann added.

"The Health Service is in crisis - people are literally dying while they wait on appointments - and yet there is no sign of any genuine willingness on behalf of parties to find a way out of the political cul-de-sac which devolution is currently parked in.

"Northern Ireland cannot wait another 1,000 days for the return of devolution. If there is to be no devolution, there is only one alternative. And that's direct rule."



(JG/CM)

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