Steve Aiken: SF cannot keep holding NI to ransom

If Stormont talks fail, then UK government must move to voluntary coalition or direct rule from Westminster, above
If Stormont talks fail, then UK government must move to voluntary coalition or direct rule from Westminster, above

Northern Ireland has been without an executive for a year. The issues on the table aren’t new and we have heard parties’ positions on them many, many times over.

Northern Ireland has been without an Executive for a year.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

The issues on the table aren’t new and we have heard parties’ positions on them many, many times over.

We will be entering these talks wanting to see the Executive and Assembly restored, and the Ulster Unionist Party will engage positively on that front. We want to see a successful resolution.

However, we are realistic about the prospect of success.

If they do not reach a positive outcome, then it is incumbent on the UK government to take responsibility and ensure that Northern Ireland has some form of functioning government, whether that is a voluntary coalition or move to direct rule. The restoration of devolution should be the number one target.

It is simply intolerable to let the current political drift continue.

No party should be allowed to stymie progress through their ideological stubbornness. Sinn Fein cannot be allowed to continue to hold Northern Ireland and its people to ransom.

We have been told that before Christmas the two largest parties had narrowed the gaps between them.

As a starting point we need to know exactly what progress has been made and where their negotiating positions sit.

There is little point in three parties re-joining discussions based on where the DUP and Sinn Fein were positioned in June last year.

It would be a waste of valuable negotiating time and time is not on our side. There is no point in us all sitting down and rehearsing arguments for weeks on end.

We quickly need to either see compromise or for parties to admit they aren’t willing to move.

It has often been said that a deal could be done within days. This needs to be the case.

Steve Aiken MLA, UUP, South Antrim