Lewis urges NI parties to form Executive ‘as soon as possible’


Northern Ireland’s political parties have been urged to form an Executive as soon as possible by Secretary of State Brandon Lewis.

Sinn Fein has secured the most seats in the Assembly election, the first time that a nationalist or republican party will form the largest grouping in the devolved Stormont Assembly.

However, the region has been without a powersharing Executive for several months after the DUP collapsed the institutions as part of its protest against the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.

The party, led by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, has vowed not to re-enter government unless their demands over the protocol are met.

The people of Northern Ireland deserve a stable and accountable local government that delivers on the issues that matter most to them

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis

In a statement, Mr Lewis said: “I encourage the parties to form an executive as soon as possible.

“The people of Northern Ireland deserve a stable and accountable local government that delivers on the issues that matter most to them.

“The electorate delivered a number of messages on Thursday.

“They were clear that they want a fully functioning devolved government in Northern Ireland, they want the issues around the protocol addressed, and that they want politics to work better.”

Mr Lewis added: “Over the coming days I will be meeting with all the party leaders and will urge them to restore the Stormont institutions at the earliest possible moment, starting with the nomination of an Assembly Speaker within eight days.

“The Government remains committed to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and will continue to work with the Northern Ireland parties and the Irish Government to deliver its vision for reconciliation, equality, respect for rights and parity of esteem.

“Together, we must move forward towards a brighter future – that means delivering for all the people of Northern Ireland.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon congratulated Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald and the party’s vice president Michelle O’Neill.

She tweeted: “Many congratulations to @moneillsf and @MaryLouMcDonald on a truly historic result for Sinn Fein.

“I wish Michelle & her colleagues – & all Northern Ireland’s elected representatives – the very best for what comes next & hope to see the NI government functioning again soon.”

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Peter Kyle said his party could act as an “honest broker” in helping to restore the Executive.

He said: “Congratulations to all the new assembly members and to Sinn Fein for earning the right to nominate a new first minister, it is healthy for Northern Ireland that parties from either community can nominate a first minister and shows the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement working.

“Unionism will still have a strong voice within powersharing and calls for progress on the remaining issues of the protocol have been heard and should not prevent a return to the executive.

“The Government must now prioritise practical solutions through negotiation with the EU and not chase headlines with empty threats.

“The Labour party will always be an honest broker for Northern Ireland, and we stand ready to help Stormont deliver on the promise of these elections and get an executive up and running to help people with the cost-of-living crisis we are facing across the United Kingdom.”


Source link

Leave a Comment