Northern Ireland news

Individual 'vanity projects' threatening powersharing, warns Alliance leader

A gardener mowing the lawn outside Stormont. Picture by Hugh Russell
David Young, Press Association

POWERSHARING is being put at risk by politicians refusing to compromise on "vanity projects", the Alliance Party has warned.

Leader Naomi Long said sticking points preventing a deal to save the institutions paled in comparison to the major obstacles overcome during the peace process.

She said it was "ludicrous" that disputes over "relatively small" points now threatened to undo the hard-fought gains of the past.

Noting the potential of yet another snap election if negotiations again fail, she claimed some political rivals were more interested in trying to secure one or two extra seats at the polls than focusing on what is best for Northern Ireland.

"What we have here is far too precious to simply squander because of vanity projects of individual parties," she said.

"If we do not restore devolution we have lost this project."

Mrs Long said she did not believe an agreement would be reached by the Good Friday deadline.

She did however call on other parties to start rebuilding trust to enable some sort of pact to be struck in the weeks ahead.

Mrs Long said progress had been made on all the outstanding issues, but not enough to get a deal over the line.

UUP leader Robin Swann said there was a need for a "change in tempo" in the talks.

"The two big parties need to realise there is more to life than what happens in the Stormont bubble," he said.

He claimed Sinn Féin was putting more energy into planning for another election than on finding a resolution to avoid one.

But Mr Swann said Mrs Long's warning that the whole powersharing project was on the line was over-dramatic.

"I think devolution is far from finished in Northern Ireland, I sincerely hope not," he said.

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