Northern Ireland

Naomi Long says another election would be 'vanity project'

Naomi Long
Image caption Naomi Long said her party would press for openness, transparency and accountability

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long has told her conference that another election would be a "vanity project".

Political parties have until Monday to strike a deal and form a new power-sharing coalition.

Mrs Long said an election would be worse than a waste of time due to budget uncertainty and no Brexit plan.

"This is no time for any parties to indulge themselves in the vanity project that is another election," she said.

"Our community and voluntary sector, our essential public services, like the health service and education, are already feeling the dire effects of budget uncertainty in reduced services and job losses.

"We owe it to those who rely on those services and to those who deliver them, to get a functioning executive established now and get back to doing the job that we were elected to do."

'Clock is ticking'

Mrs Long said the party would continue to "press hard on openness, transparency and accountability both between Minsters in the Executive, between the Executive and the Assembly, and crucially between political parties and the public".

She said "the future of devolution hangs in the balance" and the "clock is ticking down to Monday's deadline".

"Whilst others may secretly hanker for a period of direct rule or feel that another election may offer the chance of a better result for their party, we are clear that neither will solve the problems which face us today," Mrs Long added.

"Voter turnout in the Assembly election was the highest we have seen since that first Assembly election after the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

"They saw the institutions in real jeopardy and the clear message they gave to all of us elected was that they want to see devolution restored and delivering for them."

The parties have until 16:00 on Monday to resolve issues that divide them - if they fail, another snap Northern Ireland Assembly election could be called, just weeks after a poll held at the start of this month.

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