This morning I have called on the British and Irish governments to move decisively to initiate all-party talks with the full involvement of the two governments following comments made by First Minister Peter Robinson today.
The SDLP has said repeatedly that the most viable Talks process needed to include all party and two government. We have also said that the Talks process should be configured to deal with all the issues – identity, flags, parades, welfare, budget demands, the NCA and North South. Unless all of the issues are dealt with and unless there is a paradigm shift in our politics then things will continue to degrade.
Our strong advice to Dublin and London is move now, move decisively, move to all-party, two government talks.
This current crisis is a manifestation of an on-going deterioration of the workings of the executive between the First and deputy First ministers. The First Minister has much audacity in walking away from one set of Talks and now calling for another set of Talks.
There also needs to be a huge dose of caution. All of the issues must be discussed, not merely the issues the DUP want to discuss. At St. Andrews we saw the DUP begin to hollow out the Good Friday Agreement. In the years since they have tried to do more damage to the spirit of the Agreement with the negotiations at St. Andrews and Hillsborough which have further increased the ineffective nature of government here. It is not the Agreement that has failed it is the two big parties which have failed the Agreement. Any St. Andrews II must not be used by the DUP as a further attempt to hollow out the GFA, to resist deep partnership, to deny the values of parity and equality or to recreate the old world.
So – yes to talks but no to undermining the values and institutions of the Agreement.
“This an abject admission of failure on behalf of the First Minister. This was the same first Minister who said that the success of the Assembly would be judged on delivery.