Reform of the institutions to allow us to tackle cost of living crisis should be priority issue for new Prime Minister, says Long

Assembly Naomi Long Cost of Living

Reform of the institutions to allow us to tackle the cost of living crisis should be a priority issue for the incoming Prime Minister, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said.

The East Belfast MLA was speaking ahead of the announcement of the new Prime Minister, with either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak due to be announced as taking up the reins. She said the current lack of an Executive was compounding the cost of living crisis, but reforms would allow restoration of the institutions and help to be given to people.

“This is an incredibly challenging time for everyone but one of the priority issues for the new Prime Minister must be restoration of the Assembly and Executive, particularly as the 24-week deadline for Executive formation is fast approaching,” she said.

“To do so and also secure their long-term viability, reforms must be carried out. Alliance has previously written to the UK and Irish Governments, outlining a series of proposals, including the right to nominate a First or deputy First Minister passing to the next largest party if a party does not nominate, as well as introducing weighted majority voting for ‘cross-community’ votes in the Assembly.

“Our advice has unfortunately not been heeded to date and sadly we are in the second long-term stand-off in five years. However, the new occupant of Number 10 has a clean slate and a chance to restore devolution and for good. If parties are going to exercise vetoes, we need to find a work around or else people here will continue to be held hostage by ransom politics, in the middle of the worst cost of living crisis for generations.

“Unfortunately, it appears the DUP has no intention of allowing a government to be formed and getting people the help they need, with the other option of an election likely to end in anything other than a similar outcome to May, when people already had their say, meaning an expensive and pointless distraction from dealing with the real issues.

“Under the current circumstances, the people of Northern Ireland are facing a long, hard winter without a government taking decisions to help them. Services are struggling, businesses are dealing with rising bills and people are worried about heating their homes and feeding their families.

“Reform of the institutions to allow them to return will help. The case is indisputable and uncontroversial, restoring public confidence, while not altering the fundamental principles of the Good Friday Agreement. We need to help people, not further punish them.”