SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has slammed the dangerous tactics of the DUP aimed at fundamentally undermining power sharing and warping the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.
SDLP MLAs will take their seats in the Assembly chamber this afternoon (1 pm) to confirm with the current Speaker that the DUP and Sinn Féin have failed to reach an agreement to restore an Executive and return power to local people.
In the absence of an Executive, Mr Eastwood said his party will not facilitate a shadow Assembly in breach of the balanced institutions of the agreement.
Said the Foyle MLA: “People like John Hume, Seamus Mallon and others spilled their sweat to forge institutions that brought our people closer together.
“The peace that they built included a local Executive, where people representing the two major traditions on this island would be compelled to set aside their differences and work in our substantial common interest.
“It included North-South institutions to give voice to the desire of Irish nationalism for closer integration across this island.
“It was never supposed to be an Assembly alone, which would have suited hard-liners who resist cooperation.
“When the Assembly is called to sit, SDLP MLAs will return to work.
“But we will not facilitate any attempt to undermine the delicate balance of institutions which allow all sections of our community to pursue their ambitions.
“We will take our seats this afternoon to confirm with the Assembly Speaker that the DUP and Sinn Féin have again failed to reach an honourable compromise that would see the restoration of government in Northern Ireland.
“Those parties must account for their failure to people waiting for a hospital appointment, parents waiting for support for children with special educational needs and the most vulnerable who are facing the bedroom tax and an end to welfare mitigations next year.
“The SDLP has made proposals aimed at bridging the gaps and restoring an Executive – reform or suspending the Petition of Concern to allow issues like these to be decided on my an Assembly free from the threat of veto.
“Other parties should join us and restore power sharing so that we can act in the best interests of those who elected us,” added the SDLP leader.