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Northern Ireland news

Naomi Long says DUP asked Alliance to lobby against snap election

Alliance Strangford MLA Kellie Armstrong. Picture by Mal McCann
Brendan Hughes

THE DUP asked Alliance to help urge the Northern Ireland secretary to postpone calling a snap election, the party's leader Naomi Long has said.

It is understood Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong was approached by a DUP assembly member about lobbying secretary of state James Brokenshire.

Mrs Long said: "They simply asked if we would be willing to work on a cross-party basis to request to the secretary of state that, rather than have an election, he suspend the institutions so we could have talks."

But speaking on BBC Radio Ulster, the Alliance leader said the request was rejected.

"That's not something that we believe is either in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland nor indeed in line with the agreement that has been made so we would not be willing to do that," she said.

The DUP did not comment yesterday, but a party source insisted any such approach was not made with central approval of the party.

An Alliance spokesman said: "In light of the seriousness of the current impasse, we do not believe such a suspension would be adequate to resolve the much deeper crisis in the institutions.

"While we are willing to work with others to see the institutions restored in the remaining time before Monday's deadline, we are of the view an election is not only increasingly inevitable but may be necessary in advance of any talks, and potentially holds the greatest hope of electing parties who will seek to restore devolution."

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