Ulster Unionist Justice Spokesperson, Doug Beattie MC, MLA, has said that addressing issues of governance are the key to restoring Stormont and accused Sinn Fein of having no interest in doing so.
Doug Beattie said:
“It is clear Sinn Fein do not want to get Stormont up and running with a working reformed Executive. Anyone who listens to what they say and believes what looks like blatant lies about wanting to get Stormont up and running, misses a very key point. Sinn Fein could restore Stormont tomorrow, but won’t.
“Before the general election was called, we had all-party talks that focused on three main issues - Legacy, the Irish Language and Governance. The third of these was the key to any deal.
“If we could sort out the governance - that is create a working reformed and inclusive executive while addressing issues like the Petition of Concern - we could ensure democracy delivered change. A reformed PoC could prevent it being abused as it has been in the past.
“All five major parties saw this as the key to a deal and it remains the case.
“Fast forward to the period post the General Election when Sinn Fein engaged in two-party talks with the DUP, attempting to undemocratically force through issues via a stitch-up, rather than being put before the Assembly. The reality is that they are resolutely unwilling to engage to create the conditions where the Assembly can fulfil its democratic role of legislating.
“They argue that they have a mandate to fight for equality and rights - but what about the rights of representation for the 1.6 million who did not vote for Sinn Fein? They are allowing the people of Northern Ireland to suffer poor governance, a slowly collapsing NHS, Education, infrastructure and justice system, knowing that this does not have to be the case.
“In early December the Ulster Unionist Party put the issue of Governance to Sinn Fein and the reform of the PoC as the key to a deal. We also asked for them to help restart all-party talks - even exploratory talks - before Christmas. They said no.
“Sinn Fein do not want a democratic, negotiated deal. They want capitulation on their terms and they are happy to play with the lives of 1.8 million to get it. A reduction in pay will not change this stance. Sinn Fein and the DUP are like playground bullies - because they won’t work, nobody is allowed to work.
“The only thing that can change this impasse is democracy and that can only be delivered through reform of our governance system. It’s time the Secretary of State restarted all-party talks and explored other options for democratic government such as voluntary coalition or instigated direct rule.”