Belfast Telegraph

It is time to put cards on table, Eastwood tells the DUP and SF

By Ed Carty

The leader of the SDLP has called for Sinn Fein and the DUP to publish what progress has been made on power-sharing talks.

With the latest deadline to revive Stormont a week away, Colum Eastwood said the two parties should come clean with the public on the negotiations or else offer a "Plan B".

"Week after week we have heard that they have made 'progress' but with no detail and no substance. They need to put their cards on the table," Mr Eastwood said.

"The time for negotiating behind the scenes is over. The public deserve to know why they are paying the price for political failure."

The DUP and Sinn Fein remain at loggerheads over an Irish Language Act, leaving the spectre of direct rule looming ever larger.

Power-sharing imploded in January when late Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness resigned amid a row over the DUP's handling of the botched Renewable Heat Incentive.

The fall-out subsequently exposed deeper rifts in power-sharing.

Four deadlines have been and gone in the last 10 months.

Mr Eastwood added: "After 10 months with no government, it appears that the only thing set to be delivered by the DUP and Sinn Fein is British direct rule, a prospect that should make all of us very worried and very angry."

The SDLP said the two parties must have the courage to compromise or offer their alternatives to London running all of Northern Ireland's affairs.

"The SDLP is clear: British direct rule must not and cannot be the Plan B," he added.

"Direct rule doesn't just bring the British Government into a more powerful position - it gives Arlene Foster and the DUP a blank cheque. That's a compromise the SDLP is not prepared to make."

Belfast Telegraph

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