Long warns DUP not to overplay their hand

The DUP has been urged to “step up” and enter a new Stormont Executive.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 7:34 am

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long also warned Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s party that it would be “foolhardy” to “overplay their hand” in demands for the UK government to take action over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Leading her enlarged team into Stormont yesterday morning, Mrs Long told the media they were turning up for work as they had promised voters during their election campaign.

“I want us to sit down, get the negotiations under way on the programme for government and the budget, and I want to see us getting government up and running as quickly as possible,” she said.

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A No Entry sign at Parliament Buildings at Stormont, Belfast, following the historic result at the weekend with Sinn Fein overtaking the DUP to become the first nationalist or republican party to emerge top at Stormont.

“We’re going to see a functioning Assembly hopefully pretty soon – that will be the easier part of all of this – but to get a functioning Executive we need the DUP to step up to the plate. With power comes responsibility, and people now need to take the responsibility seriously.

“I think the DUP need to reflect on their mishandling of Brexit, on the fact they had huge influence at Westminster and overplayed their hand.

“It would be foolhardy for them to overplay their hand with devolution because that is a gamble that Northern Ireland can’t afford to take.”

Mrs Long was also critical of statements by government ministers that the Northern Ireland Protocol is threatening the Good Friday Agreement and preventing formation of government at Stormont.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and his new Assembly team talk to the media in the Great Hall at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

“What is threatening the Good Friday Agreement is the British government not playing an open hand with the people of Northern Ireland, using and abusing the protocol as an issue to try to garner support for their own cause,” she said.

“I think it’s time for the UK government to resume its role as an honest broker in this process, to be open and honest with the people of Northern Ireland.

“Ultimately this is Boris Johnson’s baby, the protocol was birthed on his watch. There is no point in telling us now it’s a disaster.”