Time running out for restoration of devolution, warns Alliance MLA
Public services and communities are facing a “perfect storm” as the north's mounting financial problems are compounded by the ongoing Stormont impasse, an MLA has warned.
Alliance representative Andrew Muir was commenting after meeting Tánaiste Micheál Martin, in Belfast.
Mr Martin also has scheduled engagements with Sinn Féin and the UUP today.
The engagements come as the ongoing political deadlock over devolution in Belfast continues.
The DUP is blocking the powersharing institutions in protest at post-Brexit trading arrangements and the party has insisted it will not return to Stormont until it secures further legislative assurances from the British government around sovereignty and trade.
Senior civil servants are currently running public services in the north in the ongoing absence of devolution.
They have estimated that Stormont departments need hundreds of millions of pounds in extra funding to maintain public services at their current level this year.
Hundreds of millions more would be needed to settle a series of public sector pay disputes.
Mr Muir and fellow Alliance MLA Nuala McAllister met the Tánaiste first this morning.
“What public services, communities and families are enduring is a perfect storm,” Mr Muir said afterwards.
“The forecast ahead is quite serious, so time is not on our side here for the restoration of devolution.
“Time is running out for that. We have a developing situation in relation to public services in terms of a £1 billion overspend.
“We made it very clear that there’s a need for the DUP to get back into government, but also for reform of the institutions, so we can stop this constant cycle of crisis and collapse.”
Mr Muir said the other Stormont parties are in the dark over when the DUP intends to return to powersharing.
“Some people are talking about we could be back in September. Do you know what the reality is? I don’t know. Because the DUP won’t tell us, they don’t tell us what we’re waiting for,” he said.
“They need to be honest with the public. What are they asking for? What do they want? Do they want more people to face the situation that is unfolding here? What exactly are we waiting for? Because using people as leverage in Northern Ireland is disgraceful. And the impact of that is getting worse and worse and worse.”
Mr Muir said cross-border investment was discussed with Mr Martin, including around the stalled A5 road upgrade.