Monday 22 May 2017 08:24:43 PM

Alliance Leader Calls For Talks To Continue
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Alliance Leader Naomi Long has said it would be “disgraceful” for any party to use the impending General Election to stall or withdraw from the current talks process, however she added the chances of a deal were now more remote.

Mrs Long was speaking after Theresa May announced a snap poll for June 8. The Prime Minister said it was in the wake of the EU referendum. Mrs Long said while it would be one of the main issues of the election campaign, other vital matters would also be on the table.

She said: “Alliance will be contesting this election on a platform of providing good government and opposing a hard Brexit, while seeking a special deal to address the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland.

“Theresa May has made it clear she wants to ram a hard Brexit through Parliament irrespective of how bad the deal on offer from the EU may be. The strongest possible vote to the contrary is required to minimise the long-term economic damage to the UK as a whole and to protect the interests of Northern Ireland.

“In terms of Northern Ireland, Alliance only lost the 2015 election due to a five-party unionist pact in East Belfast. Only weeks ago, Robin Swann was elected as UUP leader and made a pledge his party would be different to the DUP. Now he faces the challenge to prove that and not slide back into an undemocratic agreement with other parties. The decision he takes will either make or break his party.

“This election coincides with a critical time in our local politics. The current vacuum is not sustainable, it is already doing massive damage to our economy and our public services. It would be disgraceful for any party to use this election and the hope of short-term electoral gain to stall or withdraw the current talks process.

“However, the chances of a deal this side of June 8 have now become more remote. Despite this, the people of Northern Ireland have already given MLAs a clear instruction to do their job and to act responsibly through putting in place progressive and sustainable devolution.”