Allister: It’s overdue but the DUP has faced up to reality

TUV leader Jim Allister
TUV leader Jim Allister
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The DUP’s decision to call an end to the talks process has been described as “overdue” by the TUV leader Jim Allister.

Responding to the statement by DUP leader Arlene Foster, Mr Allister said the DUP had “faced some measure of reality” by calling a halt to the talks.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 14th February 2018 - ''Press conference at Parliament Buildings, Stormont with SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.''Photo by Philip Magowan  / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 14th February 2018 - ''Press conference at Parliament Buildings, Stormont with SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.''Photo by Philip Magowan / Press Eye.

He said: “I welcome the fact the DUP has faced some measure of reality. With Sinn Fein never in Stormont to make Northern Ireland work this was an overdue conclusion to the present pointless talks.

“However, they need to go further and accept that things can only move forward by fully accepting the demonstrated reality that mandatory coalition can and will never work.”

He said that direct rule from Westminster is the only option if a system of “voluntary coalition” cannot be put in place in Northern Ireland.

“This system of devolution is doomed to constant deadlock and failure,” he said.

“Only a coalition of the willing stands any chance of success. If such is not attainable then we need government from the only other place it can come from, Westminster.”

The SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, meanwhile, said the British government and the DUP should not be “allowed” to “think that they are going to govern Northern Ireland on their own”.

He added: “The spirit which underpins the Good Friday Agreement is one that recognises we have two communities here, two nationalities, two sets of allegiances and we have to have that recognised in anything that goes after this.”

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long urged against a switch to direct rule.

She said: “It is now incumbent on the British and Irish governments to come up with a way forward, because Northern Ireland has to be governed but a switch to direct rule does nothing but aid the DUP.”

The East Belfast MLA believes some way to restore devolution might still be possible.

She said: “A deal to restore devolution is, was and remains doable. We have sought an urgent meeting with the secretary of state to discuss options for a way forward.

“The government has a responsibility to take some kind of control – it is not right over 20 years of political investment should be squandered by a party which represents a minority of people.”