Arrangements for devolved government at Stormont are “no longer fit for purpose”, a senior DUP MP has claimed.
As the latest deadline for talks aimed at salvaging the power-sharing institutions looms, any hopes of a breakthrough appear to be increasingly slim.
And DUP MP Sammy Wilson has warned that – even if an eleventh-hour settlement is reached – the structures for devolved government at Stormont “need to change” in order to prevent a repeat of such a crisis in the future.
The East Antrim MP told the News Letter: “Peter Robinson made the same observations a number of years ago and his words have proven to be true now more than ever.”
On Wednesday, the Alliance Party called on the Secretary of State to legislate for reforms to the Assembly’s petition of concern system.
Such a move, the party said, would help clear the way for the restoration of devolution.
While he criticised the proposal, Mr Wilson said he would welcome a broader package of reforms to “fix the problems at Stormont”.
He added: “It has been proven that the mandatory coalition at Stormont is open to abuse. Sinn Fein did not get their own way and so they simply walked away, bringing the system to its knees.
“It cannot be the norm that one party is able to collapse the Assembly and then seek to blackmail others with their unrealistic demands.”
Mr Wilson reiterated that the DUP will not accede to Sinn Fein’s demand for an Irish language act, which has been at the heart of the impasse.
He also accused Gerry Adams of seeking to “shift the blame” for the failure of the talks process on to others.
SF MP Chris Hazzard said his party wants “sustainable institutions based on equality, rights and respect.”
Secretary of State James Brokenshire was to return to Stormont last night to continue talks with both parties.