Parties react after meeting with the Secretary of State on Stormont stalemate

The DUP say the ball is in the UK government's court, whilst the SDLP say there can be "no summer recess" in Stormont efforts.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, has held meetings with the DUP, SDLP, and Alliance in Westminster.

The talks related to the current Stormont stalemate. The Executive collapsed in February 2022 over the DUP’s opposition to post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland.

Following the meeting, the DUP’s deputy leader, Gavin Robinson MP said the meeting was productive, but more meaningful action was needed.

<em>DUP deputy leader Gavin Robinson MP<em>

“We want to see progress on legislation, it’s for the government to bring it forward, the next available window for them to do that is in September and I hope they get on with the job,” he said.

Gavin Robinson also said that they are working through the paper with the government, which they submitted to the UK government in June, which contained proposals on how to address the key issues with the Windsor Framework.

The SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood MP, has said there can be no summer recess on efforts to restore devolution in Northern Ireland.

<em>SDLP leader Colum Eastwood MP<em>

He continued by saying that the impact of hospital waiting lists, the public sector pay crisis and the soaring costs should keep minds focused on reforming the Northern Ireland Executive.

“There can be no summer recess on the efforts to restore devolution. People across our communities are experiencing hardship and pain as the impact of the breakdown of democratic governance steadily gets worse,” said the Foyle MP.

Meanwhile, the Alliance Party’s deputy leader, Stephen Farry MP, said his party was concerned that as time goes by restoring the assembly “may become more and more difficult”.

<em>Alliance Partys deputy leader Stephen Farry MP<em>

“It’s now over four months since the Windsor Framework was agreed and we’re still not seeing a restoration of the executive and the assembly,” he said.

He added that the secretary of state and the DUP were working on “some sort of fix” to the issue but that he was “not entirely sure that the government and the DUP are on the same page”.

“It’s important that the DUP is realistic as to what is achievable,” he added.

Chris Heaton-Harris will meet with Sinn Féin and the Ulster Unionist Party on Thursday when he travels to Northern Ireland.

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