Belfast Telegraph

Bradley tells bickering MLAs to end grandstanding and return to talks

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley (Brian Lawless/PA)
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley (Brian Lawless/PA)
At the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference were Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; David Lidington MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office; Tanaiste & Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD and Minister for Justice and Equality, Charles Flanagan TD

By Staff Reporter

Karen Bradley has challenged the political parties to chart a path back to Stormont.

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, the Secretary of State rejects criticism of Thursday's round-table talks which some parties slammed as a waste of time - and calls for the politicians to get back around the table.

She says: "I was keen to hear the views of all the parties on a route back to a talks process, before deciding on the best way forward.

"I look forward to receiving their feedback on the suggestions shared during the meeting.

"Thursday was never going to be about finding immediate solutions.

"I have been clear that we need to focus on rebuilding dialogue, trust and consensus, supported by a clear way forward.

"I understand the deep frustrations of the political parties, but even more so, I understand the frustration of the people of Northern Ireland."

Speaking in Dublin yesterday, Mrs Bradley told the parties to "stop grandstanding" and take ownership of seeing devolved government return to Stormont.

She said: "We need to have dialogue, we need constructive engagement, we need, as I say, parties to stop grandstanding and actually do the right thing."

Mrs Bradley made the comments following talks between senior Irish and UK government ministers at a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC).

She said: "Let's stop the grandstanding, let's stop the soundbites, now is the time we get back in the room and we get talking.

"I want to see those parties taking an ownership, taking a responsibility and working with me, so we can get a process that people can have confidence in and see that they will have devolved government in Stormont again in the near future."

Brexit negotiations and the absence of powersharing in Northern Ireland topped the agenda of the conference.

Ireland's deputy premier Simon Coveney said the most challenging item on the agenda was the political stability in Northern Ireland.

He said that both the UK and Irish government ministers had engaged in "substantial and serious discussions", in particular about how the institutions in Northern Ireland could be re-established. "We're going to keep talking regularly to see how we can put a structure in place that can actually work, that can engage all of the parties and that ensures that in the not-too-distant future we have a structure people can believe in," he added.

North/south security co-operation and bilateral co-operation between the British and Irish governments was also discussed.

Belfast Telegraph

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