DUP threats to collapse Stormont Assembly ‘embarrassing’, Long says

Alliance minister says NI politicians should do jobs rather than ‘sabre-rattling’ over protocol

Alliance justice minister Naomi Long said it was frustrating for people to be starting another year with further questions about the future of the Assembly. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Alliance justice minister Naomi Long said it was frustrating for people to be starting another year with further questions about the future of the Assembly. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

DUP threats to collapse powersharing in protest at the Northern Ireland Protocol are “embarrassing”, Stormont’s justice minister has said.

Naomi Long said it was frustrating for people to be starting another year with further questions about the future of the Assembly.

First Minister Paul Givan this week said it was “inevitable” that Stormont would collapse if issues around the post-Brexit protocol were not resolved.

The DUP politician said he was committed to devolution but that the current situation was not “tenable”. His party leader Jeffrey Donaldson has repeatedly threatened to bring down Stormont unless a so-called Irish Sea border is removed.

In response to the latest remarks, Alliance Party minister Mrs Long told BBC Talkback she thought the remarks were “embarrassing frankly” and “further sabre-rattling”.

‘Critical business’

In addition to handling the Covid-19 pandemic, Mrs Long said there was much “critical business” that needed to be finished within the current Assembly mandate.

“I have two pieces of substantive legislation that are moving rapidly through the Assembly but those would be lost if the Assembly were to collapse,” she said. “There is also legal business which has to be done, such as setting a budget.

“If we don’t do that, then, departments will not have the legal basis on which to continue to spend and invest in public services.

“All of those things require a government. So if people want to make a point, of course, they can explain why these issues are important, but holding to ransom Northern Ireland’s administration to me is just completely unacceptable.

Mrs Long added: “Politicians here need to start weaning themselves off this kind of crisis politics and start focusing on doing the job they were elected to do.” – PA