Fianna Fáil Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Brendan Smith TD has expressed concern about the ongoing impasse at Stormont and called for leadership from the political Parties and both Governments to address the growing crisis in the devolved institutions.

Deputy Smith commented, “Like many others, I have watched with growing concern and dismay over the last twelve months as the sense of drift and crisis surrounding the Northern institutions has grown.  Despite a series of false dawns in the form of the Haass process and then the Stormont House Agreement, the sense of pessimism and bad faith continues to grow.

“Of particular concern is the growing disillusionment among ordinary working people in Northern Ireland with the political process and the Stormont Executive.  Fianna Fáil has been warning for some years now that the greatest threat to the peace process is the disengagement and disillusionment of those who make communities work and who are the bedrock of northern society.

“Our fear is that the ongoing refusal of political parties to honestly confront and respond to the challenge of public finance constraints will result in responsibility for social welfare reform being returned to Westminster.  If that happens, it becomes harder and harder to rely on the engagement and support of civic society, necessary for the long term future of the institutions.

“The claims, counter claims and recriminations which are complicating the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement have further poisoned the political atmosphere and further sapped the morale of the general public.  This is a critical time for Northern Ireland and it calls for real leadership.

“Too much effort has gone into this process for it to be allowed to collapse now.  Fianna Fáil calls on all those who are party to discussions on the way forward to remember that the public support which the Assembly and Executive have been able to rely on to date should not be taken for granted. “