Michelle O'Neill tells Liz Truss to 'quit sabre rattling' and work to restore the Stormont institutions

New Tory leader Liz Truss. Picture by Jane Barlow/PA Wire
New Tory leader Liz Truss. Picture by Jane Barlow/PA Wire

NEW Tory leader Liz Truss has been told by Michelle O'Neill to stop her "reckless threats to break international law" and prioritise restoring the Stormont executive.

The Sinn Féin first minister designate said she had written to the newly appointed British prime minister urging her to work to put the devolved institutions back in place, enabling the regional administration to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

Following official confirmation that Ms Truss was to be the fourth Conservative Party leader since 2016, Ms O'Neill said the British government needed to act without delay to "cut people’s bills and stop big energy companies from ripping people off".

"The first task now for Liz Truss is to immediately work to restore the executive and assembly so we can help people who are struggling with rising costs," she said.

"Workers, families and small businesses are struggling with energy bills that are simply out of control and unaffordable. They need help now to tackle this cost-of-living emergency."

The Sinn Féin northern leader said Downing Street needed to "stop facilitating the DUP’s destructive and self serving boycott of government".

"She should end her sabre-rattling and reckless threats to break international law and get back to the table for talks with the EU to find solutions and give certainty to our businesses," Ms O'Neill said.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson congratulated the new Tory leader and said his party had requested a meeting to discuss the protocol and "our approach to energy and food security".

"To address the cost-of-living crisis in Northern Ireland, the government must replace the Northern Ireland Protocol with arrangements which restore our place in the United Kingdom," the Lagan Valley MP said.

"The energy and food security of the United Kingdom will require an immediate and robust response from the new prime minister – yet both areas are heavily restricted under the protocol."

Sir Jeffrey called for the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol Bill to be "moved forward as expeditiously as possible" enabling the Treasury ministers to use "their substantial firepower to help all parts of the United Kingdom in this cost-of-living crisis".

Alliance leader Naomi Long said the new prime minister had a chance to make a positive impact on the north but acknowledged there were concerns about her appointment "given some of her actions to date".

She said Ms Truss's comments during the leadership campaign "do not inspire confidence" and likewise her "pursuit of the protocol bill".

"If she follows through on a hard right agenda, her legacy could be damage to the economy, public services, rights and equality, and good governance.," Mrs Long said.

"However, being new to the role, she has a window of opportunity to put her stamp on the position.

"As such, she can make a positive impact on Northern Ireland by engaging in sensible discussions with the EU around the protocol, and pursuing reforms to the assembly and executive in order to secure their return and future proof both."

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said he wanted to see a "strong government which acts swiftly in the best interests of all its people in all parts of the United Kingdom".

“That means bringing forward tangible plans to address the cost of living crisis and moving quickly to deal with the Northern Ireland Protocol," he said.

“Rocketing household bills are going to see more and more families falling into fuel poverty and real hardship. People will be going cold and hungry this winter and being forced to make some unpalatable decisions."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood offered his congratulations to Ms Truss but warned her that the cost of living crisis meant there would be "no honeymoon period" for the new prime minister.

"Liz Truss must act immediately to address the cost of living crisis by freezing energy bills and introducing new direct support schemes for those with oil central heating or prepay meters," he said.

"This should be funded through an extension of windfall taxes on energy companies making obscene and immoral profits as a result of this crisis."

TUV leader Jim Allister said: "Any sensible Unionist will judge Ms Truss not by her words but by her actions".