Protests to mark North’s 589 days of political impasse

Absence of Stormont ‘sorry indictment’, says SDLP leader as Belgium’s record exceeded

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood:  “The SDLP have been consistent in calling on the two governments to step up and step in.” Photograph: Eric Luke

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood: “The SDLP have been consistent in calling on the two governments to step up and step in.” Photograph: Eric Luke

 

A number of protests are planned for cities and towns in Northern Ireland on Tuesday evening marking the 589 days that the North has been without a fully functioning powersharing administration.

Northern Ireland is about to overtake Belgium as holding the record for being without an administration.

Belgium had held the record during the period from April 2010, when prime minister Yves Leterme resigned, to December 2011 when a new government was formed.

The North on Tuesday also reaches the 589 governmentless figure. That dates from January 9th, 2017, when the late Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness stood down as deputy first minister.

The absence of an administration in Northern Ireland prompted the creation of the #WeDeserveBetter social media campaign calling on the DUP and Sinn Féin to restore the Northern Executive.

‘Abandoned our people’

It has organised demonstrations for 7pm on Tuesday in towns and cities such as Belfast, Derry, Armagh, Newry, Banbridge, Portadown, Dungannon, Newcastle and Enniskillen.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that as “legislators we should be embarrassed that we have abandoned our people for 589 days”.

He said it was a “truly sorry indictment of our politics here”.

“The focus must now lie in finding a solution,” said Mr Eastwood. “The SDLP have been consistent in calling on the two governments to step up and step in.

“As co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, it is their duty to take the hard issues off the table by allowing Westminster to legislate for marriage equality and language issues, so all parties can get back to work,” he said.

“With Brexit, our politics has now reached a defining moment. We cannot allow a hard Brexit to be thrust upon our people without a functioning assembly to mitigate its devastating impacts.”

While Northern Ireland is about to break a record, it will not be formally recognised in the Guinness Book of World Records as the administration in Westminster still can pass some laws for the North.