Northern Ireland news

Colum Eastwood calls for ‘political courage' in supporting Windsor Framework

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has backed the Windsor Framework (Brian Lawless/PA)
Claudia Savage, PA

The SDLP has called for “political courage” after announcing its support of the Windsor Framework.

The agreement has been called the “best deal available” by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, but the DUP maintain that it does not address fundamental problems.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the benefits of the framework outweighed the party’s concerns on how the Stormont brake would operate in practice.

“We now have a unique investment proposition for people in Northern Ireland but it first requires an investment of political courage,” he said.

The party had previously expressed concerns about elements of the deal, including that the Stormont brake may impact the investment prospects offered by access to both EU single market and UK internal market.

“The SDLP has taken time to consider the terms of the Windsor Framework, the balance it strikes between Assembly scrutiny and the potential for abusive veto but, more importantly, the impact of the new arrangements on the unique economic benefits offered by dual market access,” Mr Eastwood said.

Mr Eastwood also said that accepting the Windsor Framework was the route to a return of the Stormont Assembly.

“Overall the Windsor Framework provides a clear path back to devolved Government in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“With cuts to our schools and youth services, hospital waiting lists out of control, GP surgeries closing across the North and public sector workers desperately in need of a pay rise, there are more important priorities that we must address.

“The question now is not whether the DUP has got enough out of this deal – it’s whether people in every town and city in Northern Ireland have had enough of division and deadlock.”