Belfast Telegraph

If Stormont talks continue as they have...we won't be there, says SDLP's Eastwood

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has threatened to pull his party out of the talks process unless there is a change in how they are handled.

On Monday all the main parties met for the first time with a session around an hour long ending without agreement and the SDLP, UUP and Alliance expressing frustration at the process.

The Northern Ireland Office said progress had been made but "difficult issues remain".

Stop bringing us to meetings to tell us nothing. Colum Eastwood

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said if the talks, set to resume on Thursday, continued in the same vein as on Monday, his party would not be there.

He said that while he had no interest in being disruptive, he had expressed his frustration to the Secretary of State on the state of play in Monday's talks.

"There is no negotiations in these meetings, there are no discussions about substantive issues... we would love there to be," he told the BBC Stephen Nolan show.

"I have told the Secretary of State to stop bringing us to meetings to tell us nothing, because we won't go.

"There has been one all-party plenary discussion on Monday, there hasn't be one in months. Yes we will continue to talk to the governments but if people pretend there is an all-party inclusive talks process when there isn't .. our patience is running out.

"We will be there on Thursday, but if it is the same as Monday we won't be there."

He added: "We want to help people get to a place of compromise. If we don't we are leaving this to the British Government and the DUP."

Change the locks and move on. Mike Nesbitt

UUP MLA Mike Nesbitt said the current talks process should be given a "tight deadline".

"After a year it is pretty obvious the direction of travel... it's not going anywhere."

"There is no solid foundation for a deal that will last.

"If I were the Secretary of State I would say - particularly to the DUP and Sinn Fein - you have to Friday week and if not we are changing the locks.

"I'm not a young man, I don't have much savings and I have children at university so by saying this I am shooting myself in the foot.

"Northern Ireland needs decisions made, if it's not MLAs then change the locks and move on."

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