Other News In Brief

SDLP Urge DUP To Support Nomination Of A Speaker

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has urged the DUP to support the nomination of a Speaker on Friday to allow the new Assembly to sit.

Mr Eastwood urged the DUP to return to the Executive to address the issues impacting communities in the North, including rising food, fuel and energy bills and huge health service waiting lists.

He also called on the British government to negotiate constructively with the EU to resolve the remaining issues around the Protocol and provide stability to the North's politics.

Foyle MP Mr Eastwood said: "The DUP's attempt to hold the North to ransom until they get their own way on the Protocol cannot be allowed to continue. Their selfish actions show their contempt for families in our communities who are struggling to heat their homes, put food on the table and petrol in their cars during the current emergency.

"We have repeatedly acknowledged the small amount of issues that remain outstanding around the Protocol and the damage it has caused to community relations, but we need to see constructive negotiations to resolve these issues and get on with dealing with the problems that are impacting people in their daily lives.

"The people of the North have been clear that they want the Protocol to remain and to explore its benefits and one party cannot be allowed to keep our institutions in cold storage indefinitely against the wishes of the public. I am calling on the DUP to see sense, to acknowledge the challenges facing families in our communities and to support the nomination of a Speaker tomorrow and return to the Executive so that people won't be forced to skip meals in cold homes or languish on health service waiting lists any longer.

"The DUP have been repeatedly led up the hill by the British government and have been let down every time. It should be clear to everyone here that Boris Johnson and his cronies have no interest in delivering for people in the North. The only way we are going to get to grips with the issues impacting people here are with a functioning Executive and Assembly and it's time the DUP realised that."

Patients At Risk By Lack Of Executive – Alliance

Alliance has accused the DUP of "putting patients at risk" with their failure to form an Executive.
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Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw was speaking after the British Medical Association Northern Ireland and four royal colleges criticised the lack of an Executive to take decisions. The DUP has so far said it would not form a government unless changes were made to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Ms Bradshaw said: "What we are seeing here is a callous disregard by the DUP for patients currently in the health service and for any of us who may need to access the health system in the near future.

"The DUP's latest reprehensible power-play, designed to cover up its own failings during the Brexit negotiations as well as for the sake of personal expediency in the case of its leader, is putting thousands of our most vulnerable people at risk.

"The health service cannot be fixed without an Executive in place, taking steps to create a budget and manage work across all Departments which will restore truly universal public health provision. Health workers themselves will also be waiting on pay settlements, all while DUP representatives get paid for obstructing others from doing their jobs.

"If this shameful subversion of democracy persists, it will merely demonstrate the veto system is no longer fit for purpose and should be swiftly abolished so those who want to do the job can get on with it on behalf of patients and health workers right across Northern Ireland."

UUP Leader Welcomes Recognition Of Need To Act On Protocol

Ulster Unionist Party Leader Doug Beattie has welcomed the Queen's Speech and said that it "recognises the need to act on the Protocol".

Mr Beattie said: "There are those who say that today's Queen's Speech in Parliament did not address the issue of the NI Protocol. I say that is incorrect.

"There is a line in the speech which says 'My Government will prioritise support for the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and its institutions, including through legislation to address the legacy of the past.'

"Given the fact that the Protocol imbalances the Belfast Agreement, it should be clear to anyone that the Government recognises the need to act on the Protocol.

"The landing zone is clear. There should be no checks on goods coming into Northern Ireland from Great Britain which are solely intended for use in Northern Ireland.

"The Ulster Unionist Party has been stating this since 2019, we restated it during the Assembly election campaign and I am repeating it now. We have produced proposals, some of which have made it into the UK Government's Command Paper of July 2021and we have taken every opportunity to engage with both our own Government and the EU to urge them to reach a solution.

"It is vital that this matter is resolved as a matter of urgency so we can get back to Stormont and begin the job of delivering for the people of Northern Ireland who elected us, and focus on the economy, health care and the cost of living crisis."

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