Sinn Féin First Minister Designate Michelle O’Neill has called on the British Secretary of State to clearly outline what efforts if any he is making to restore the Executive and Assembly.
And she said that Chris Heaton-Harris must immediately give clarity to workers and families on when they will receive energy support payments.
Michelle O’Neill said:
“It is now weeks since the British Secretary of State announced that he would change the law to deny the people their right to a voice on the DUP’s boycott of the Assembly and Executive. He claimed this would provide space to make progress on restoring the Executive.
“Since then the only thing he has delivered are further Tory cuts to public services while workers are left in the dark about their pay rises and families still have no idea when they will receive the £400 and £200 energy payments to help heat and light their homes. That’s unacceptable.
“Meanwhile government is being administered by civil servants, with no democratic mandate and with only limited powers to make decisions. People need and voted for locally elected ministers to be around an Executive table working together to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and starting to fix our health service.
“The fundamental and simple questions for Chris Heaton-Harris now are what efforts has he taken to restore the Executive and end the DUP’s boycott? When will struggling workers and families receive the support they are entitled to? When will our health and public service workers know about their pay?
“People and businesses here cannot limp on with no certainty. They need to know what progress the British government is making with the EU to reach a negotiated settlement on the Protocol that allows them to continue creating jobs and investment.
“We are all hopeful that progress can be made to deliver an agreed way forward, but the British government must demonstrate political will to reach a deal.
“I will be in the Dáil on Thursday when EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addresses, TDs, MPs, MLAs and Seanadóirí.
“I will be making it clear in Dublin that the Irish government, co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, need to do more than act as bystanders.
“The British-Irish Inter-Governmental Conference met on 7 October and it was agreed that the Conference should meet again in January 2023. What are the governments doing between now and then?
“My commitment remains that Sinn Féin will not give up on forming an Executive to invest an extra £1 billion in health and social care and put money in people’s pockets to deal with the rising cost of living.”