The ongoing political crisis here could be ended by the DUP agreeing to form an Executive, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said.
Mrs Long was speaking after the release of a report by the think tank Pivotal, which states the absence of an Executive means less transparency and accountability, and is ‘not healthy for any democratic state’.
Proposals from the report include an urgent restoration of the Assembly and Executive, development of a Programme for Government and preparation of a Budget, and clarity being given around powers available to the Civil Service if the period without an Executive continues.
The Alliance Leader said it had been a frustrating period without a local government making decisions.
“People are struggling with the rising cost of living and looking to an Executive to take decisions, but there is not one there to do so,” she said.
“That is incredibly frustrating, as money is there to help but it cannot be spent, either directly to people or Departments to deal with issues, which means other services will inevitably have to be cut.
“People made their choice in May and that was to see a functioning Government. Our services are struggling, businesses are facing incredibly hard times and people are worried about heating their homes and feeding their families.
“The idea the DUP is on strike while warning other professions they would be in breach of contract for doing likewise is preposterous. The DUP could end the political crisis by agreeing to form an Executive instead of holding Northern Ireland to ransom. Arguments around the Protocol will be resolved between the UK Government and the EU, there is no need to go on punishing the people of Northern Ireland at a time when they need our help.”