East Antrim MLA, Stewart Dickson, has expressed his ‘deep disappointment’ at the failure of the two main parties to reach an agreement last week, but reaffirmed that: ‘devolution is the only way forward for Northern Ireland’.
Mr Dickson was commenting following the collapse in talks last week, saying: “From the very start this two-party approach was adversarial and at times bad-tempered, and therefore always likely to fail. It is time to open up the discussions to all parties, and let the public see what is on the table.
“As our public services continue to suffer due to the inability of the two parties to work together, it is easy to see how some think Direct Rule could offer a solution. However, moving to Direct Rule would be the ultimate admission of failure by the two parties that they cannot work together in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland.
“Furthermore, Direct Rule did not serve Northern Ireland well in the past; Ministers were mostly absent, and have little investment in the local economy and society. Worst of all, was the ‘democratic deficit’ and the lack of accountability for Ministers that the people of Northern Ireland have no hand in electing or holding to account.
“It is clear that Northern Ireland needs local representatives, making local decisions for the people that elect them. The DUP and Sinn Fein need to work together for the people, in a spirit of respect and understanding, and to do that all the parties need to get around the table, with an honest, independent mediator. The Alliance Party has been, and continues to be, ready to engage fully in a meaningful and serious talks process.
“The DUP and Sinn Fein, do not have the right to hold us all back, the people of Northern Ireland want solutions and progress, not blame, scaremongering and grandstanding. Devolution is the only way forward, so for the good of everyone, let’s get on with it.”