An Ulster Unionist MLA has said that no one party should be allowed to continue to “stymie progress”, as fresh talks aimed at breaking the Stormont dealock are due to begin today.
Northern Ireland has been without a functioning government since January 2017, when Sinn Fein collapsed the power sharing institutions.
Following several rounds of talks, the DUP and Sinn Fein have failed to reach a breakthrough that would allow devolution to return.
Steve Aiken said Sinn Fein “should not be allowed to hold Northern Ireland and its people to ransom”.
He added: “We want to see a successful resolution. However, we are realistic about the prospect of success.”
If the talks do not reach a positive outcome, Mr Aiken said it is “incumbent on the UK Government to ensure that NI has some form of functioning government
Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill said her party was ready to engage in the talks process.
She added: “The public want these institutions to work but they will only work if the people have confidence in them.
“The way to achieve that is to work for genuine power sharing and political institutions operating on the principles of mutual respect and equality.”