SDLP leader: Proposals should be published if no deal done this week

Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2017 - Photographer - � Matt Mackey / Presseye.com

Irish nationalist politician and leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Colum Eastwood updates the assembled media in The Great Hall, Parliament Buildings, Stormont along with party colleagues.

Mr Eastwood took questions on Theresa May's call for a General Election in the midst of the Stormont crisis talks and reminded the other parties in the Assembly that the SDLP are wishing to continue the talks process.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2017 - Photographer - � Matt Mackey / Presseye.com Irish nationalist politician and leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Colum Eastwood updates the assembled media in The Great Hall, Parliament Buildings, Stormont along with party colleagues. Mr Eastwood took questions on Theresa May's call for a General Election in the midst of the Stormont crisis talks and reminded the other parties in the Assembly that the SDLP are wishing to continue the talks process.

The UK and Irish governments should publish their proposals to revive powersharing in Northern Ireland if no deal is done this week, the leader of the SDLP has said.

Colum Eastwood said London and Dublin should set out fair and compromise solutions to the deadlock if the DUP and Sinn Fein do not come to agreement.

Major blocks to getting Stormont back up and running include republicans’ demands for a standalone Irish language act to give formal rights to speakers.

There are also issues around legacy investigations relating to the Troubles.

As powersharing negotiations resume in Belfast, Mr Eastwood said that as crises build in health and education it is not credible or sustainable to leave success of the talks in the hands of the DUP and Sinn Fein.

“We acknowledge that these parties have the big mandates from the electorate but they do not have a mandate to hold the north ransom in a position of permanent stalemate,” the MLA for Foyle said.

Ministers have not sat at Stormont for seven months, after the late Martin McGuinness resigned as deputy first minister in a row over the DUP’s handling of a botched green energy scheme.

Mr Eastwood said that if it becomes clear that the two big parties cannot do a powersharing deal then London and Dublin should make their joint proposals public.

“They should then publicly challenge all the parties to sign up to it or reject it,” he said.

“This intervention by the co-guarantors of our political agreements would also bring focus to the real priority of finally getting a government formed which can begin to tackle hospital waiting lists, school budget cuts and the growing numbers of families without a home.”

Mr Eastwood also questioned whether the DUP’s and Sinn Fein’s signals in the last week that they were keen to engage in talks are as much about avoiding blame if talks collapse.