I congratulate Julian Smith on his appointment as the new secretary of state for Northern Ireland.
I wish him well.
He will have to get across his brief extremely quickly. I look forward to meeting him in the coming days. I also wish Karen Bradley well as she leaves government.
The new secretary of state must waste no time in taking decisions and bring an end to the indulgence of Sinn Fein and the DUP, to see the assembly and executive restored in the near future.
I urge Julian Smith not to let the DUP-Conservative Confidence and Supply Agreement to influence his decision making and neither should he allow Sinn Fein to hold democracy to ransom by allowing their self-imposed boycott of the institutions to cause further damage to local services.
He needs to engage with all Northern Ireland’s main political parties as a matter of urgency.
If there is no agreement to restore devolution then the pace of direct rule decision making should be ramped up.
We cannot afford another number of months pussyfooting around the problems.
Pressure must be applied to those who are preventing the restoration of devolution.
I assure the new secretary of state of the Ulster Unionist Party’s full positive engagement in helping to restore devolution but we won’t be offering a blank cheque for a return to the flawed administration of the past, blighted by scandal and disrespect.
Robin Swann, Ulster Unionist Party leader, North Antrim MLA