Northern Ireland

Immediate action needed to address Stormont stalemate – O’Neill

Michelle O’Neill has called for urgent action to address the Stormont stalemate (Brian Lawless/PA)
Michelle O’Neill has called for urgent action to address the Stormont stalemate (Brian Lawless/PA)

Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill has called for “immediate action” from the UK Government to address the political stalemate in Northern Ireland.

The PA news agency understands that Ms O’Neill wrote to Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris in recent days stating that the patience of the public had been tested “beyond all reasonable limits” by the ongoing impasse.

The powersharing institutions at Stormont have been suspended for more than 18 months due to a protest by the DUP over post-Brexit trading arrangements.

The unionist party has been involved in negotiations with the Government about the Windsor Framework, which reformed the Northern Ireland Protocol, and is seeking further assurances, by way of legislation, over Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market.

Cabinet reshuffle
Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has said negotiations with the DUP are in their final stages (James Manning/PA)

Mr Heaton-Harris has said that the negotiations are nearing a conclusion, stating last week that they were in the “final, final stages”.

In her letter, Ms O’Neill called for “immediate action to address the political stalemate”.

She said that despite elements of the Windsor Framework being operational since October, negotiations between the UK Government and the DUP “have not delivered a successful outcome to date”.

Ms O’Neill said this was despite repeated assurances from both the Secretary of State and DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson that they are almost at a close.

She said “ample space and time” had been afforded for all parties involved to engage constructively.

The Sinn Fein Stormont leader also emphasised the “urgency on the Government to conclude these negotiations”, stating that the “patience of the public and all those concerned has been tested beyond reasonable limits”.

Ms O’Neill urged the Northern Ireland Secretary to respond swiftly to her to “address the gravity of the situation”.

The Northern Ireland Office has been approached for comment.