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People should be angry at biggest two parties over leaving key decisions to Westminster, says Bradshaw

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw has said people should be angry at the biggest two parties once again shirking their responsibilities and leaving key decisions to Westminster.

South Belfast MLA Ms Bradshaw was speaking as MPs debated legislation to extend the timeframe in which the Secretary of State has to legally call a new Assembly election. Several amendments have been tabled to the Bill, including having Westminster legislate for equal marriage, changes to abortion law here and compensation for victims and survivors of institutional abuse.

She said while any changes would be welcome, it would be preferable if an Assembly could bring the legislation.

“There is no good reason a deal could not have been done by now so the Assembly would be sitting this week and taking decisions on how we meet our responsibilities in key areas of social policy, such as women’s rights and extension of equal marriage, while getting on with the hard work of transforming our health service and reforming our education system.

“The system established by the DUP and Sinn Féin themselves at St Andrews means those two must form an Executive before anyone else gets a look-in. Therefore we are in no doubt where the fault of the delay lies.

“I hope through the deliberations at Westminster we will see progress on the UK meeting its requirements in Northern Ireland in terms of women’s rights with regard to abortion, and perhaps even preparing legislation for other social policy to come into line with the rest of the UK. The fact is, however, that we should not be waiting for Westminster to do this – we should be doing it ourselves.

“With the biggest mandate comes the biggest responsibility – but the DUP and Sinn Féin continue to shirk it.”