Belfast Telegraph

Stormont failure 'causing real damage to Northern Ireland'

By Michael McHugh

The vacuum left by the collapse of Stormont power-sharing is causing real damage, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has warned.

Devolved government has been suspended for more than a year and Mr Martin said there was no local voice to address mounting problems in hospitals and schools here.

He claimed Sinn Fein and the DUP bore primary responsibility for dysfunction and inaction which put party ahead of public interest, but added: "The simple fact is that the governments also bear serious responsibility.

"They allowed formal, photo-driven relations to replace the serious, detailed and ongoing engagement which had existed under previous governments.

"They may talk to each other a lot, but they seem unwilling to show urgency or serious leadership. A vacuum has been created which is grave and is causing real damage."

The British and Irish governments have been leading efforts to resurrect the devolved institutions, with nationalism opposed to direct rule from Westminster.

Recent reports have suggested an alliance between Fianna Fail and the SDLP, which has struggled at the polls in recent years.

Mr Martin made no reference to that during a speech in Dublin but warned of the danger of there being no local voice.

He added: "No voice to address endemic poverty in marginalised communities. No voice to stand against cuts to school funding or mounting problems in hospitals. Most of all there is no place for Northern Ireland at the table when its future is being decided in Brexit negotiations."

Mr Martin was addressing Fianna Fail's 1916 Commemoration at Arbour Hill on Sunday.

He also lavished praise on his predecessor Bertie Ahern. He said: "The Agreement built on the tireless work for peace of many people over the years, but there is no doubt that it would have been impossible without Bertie Ahern's leadership as Taoiseach."

Belfast Telegraph

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