Robin Swann: Sinn Fein is not seriously engaged in the Stormont talks

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor
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As this phase of the Stormont talks enters yet another week, we have yet to experience the intensification of the process.

Perhaps the new secretary of state is finding his feet.

But just as we told the prime minister when we met him, history and experience should tell you that you won’t get a sustainable agreement unless all parties are round the table.

Instead we have seen Sinn Fein continuing to attempt to further destabilise relationships and distract from the real issues which are at hand, as we see them pushing for a border poll when there over 120,000 names already on a list — 120,000 people waiting for their first health appointment.

Those are the people politicians should be focused on.

From what we have seen in talks, I don’t think Sinn Fein are seriously engaged.

They have shown little appetite to get down to addressing the issues that will help restore devolution and are instead focused on creating further instability.

The secretary of state should set a date for the end of this talks process and if sustainable agreement can’t be reached, then the government owes it to the people of Northern Ireland to move to full blown direct rule.

As a devolutionist, I would prefer to see the institutions restored. However I’m also a realist, and we can’t continue to leave a political vacuum for Sinn Fein to exploit.

They have been pandered to for too long.

We need political accountability restored to address the chronic issues in the health service which are now spilling over into other areas such as the NI Fire and Rescue Service.

If local ministers can’t deliver that, the only alternative is direct rule.

Robin Swann, MLA North Antrim, Ulster Unionist Party leader