Stormont stalemate anniversary: Robin Swann calls for five-party talks

Robin Swann
Robin Swann

UUP leader Robin Swann has marked the second anniversary of the collapse of the Assembly by calling for five-party talks.

Then deputy first minister Martin McGuinness triggered the collapse when he resigned on January 9, 2017.

Marking two years since the collapse, Mr Swann said: “The only way to get this place up and running again is for five-party talks to take place.”

Instead, he said, the secretary of state seems “obsessed with making sure that the DUP and Sinn Fein are satisfied with everything before they get round the table. That approach simply won’t work. In the absence of devolution, the secretary of state should be bringing in direct rule.”

But DUP Assembly member Gordon Lyons called on Sinn Fein to end its “boycott” of the Assembly. He added: “Two years without a government is not the wish of the DUP. We believe in devolution. We want what is best for the people living here and that’s having a functioning Executive and Assembly.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein negotiator Conor Murphy said it was “imperative we arrest the political drift”.

He added: “There is no escaping from the catastrophic course that Westminster and the DUP are charting with a reckless Brexit agenda that is hurtling towards a no-deal crash come March.”

He also expressed concern about “the ongoing denial of rights to important sections of citizens” and “vicious austerity cuts”.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: “The SDLP have been consistently calling for Karen Bradley to kick start a talks process that is inclusive and transparent. This message has not changed.”