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Restored Assembly needs to deliver for people, says Long

Any restored Assembly needs to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MEP has said.

Mrs Long was speaking after meeting Secretary of State Julian Smith for the first round of the new talks process. She said it was a “constructive and positive meeting,” but warned any Assembly needed reforms to stop it being “a mess”.

“This was a constructive and positive meeting, which is how we are approaching this entire process. We are there to help get an Assembly which delivers for the people of Northern Ireland and we need to do that quickly,” she said.

“We have three working weeks before the deadline, which means this week cannot be about parties licking their wounds or preening themselves after the election. That election is over and now we’re down to the hard graft of getting an Assembly back.

“That involves looking at reforms which need to be undertaken so when it is up and running, it is fit for purpose and long-term. There is a crisis in our health service and impending crisis in education. Our infrastructure is under extraordinary pressure and the welfare mitigation cliff edge is rapidly approaching.

“Those are the issues we were elected to deal with and it’s those we now have to address. We need both the tools and resources to be able to do so but if people come into this process with the intention of doing so and showing that will, there’s no reason why we can’t have a successful outcome in the near future.”