The Foyle MLA said: “If both governments continue to take a hands-off approach with this process, the DUP and Sinn Féin will carry on threatening to write the obituary of the Good Friday Agreement.
“Both governments need to wake up to the political reality that they are not bystanders in our politics. It is the authority and the balance provided by the two governments, which ultimately underpins the politics of Northern Ireland.
“Their job is not alone to be facilitators of these talks – their job is to be forceful in finally driving these negotiations to a conclusion.
Since last year, I have consistently called on the governments to use their authority to bring forward their own joint position. In the continued absence of agreement, I would challenge them this week to,
1. Publish a joint paper outlining their view on what represents a fair deal, which can finally restore local government. These proposals would be informed by the significant compromises we are told were previously made by the DUP and Sinn Féin.
2. After putting that paper on the table, all 5 parties should be asked to negotiate and add constructively to these proposals.
3. After a very short period, all parties should be publically challenged to sign up to the deal or reject it.
The governments’ response to this SDLP proposal has always been that they were waiting for the right moment to intervene. After month upon month of the same failure, I think we can now safely say that the right moment has long since arrived.
Both governments now have every right to jointly and strongly intervene – they no longer have a right to let this farce go on. After a year of waiting, they can be confident that far more people will thank them for intervening than those who will criticise them.
Left to themselves, Sinn Féin and DUP will happily go around the same circles and will happily continue to blame each other.
There is only one way to break that cycle of failure. Both of those parties have to be made to feel pressure and they have to be made to feel consequence – that’s the job of the two governments and it’s long past time that they performed that duty.”