Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has criticised the failure of the latest round of talks in Northern Ireland to reach agreement on restoring the Northern Ireland Executive.

Deputy Martin commented, “When Sinn Féin brought down the Northern institutions and initiated the second Assembly election in just nine months, my party was critical of that decision on the basis that it put party politics ahead of governance.

“It was clear to anyone watching that while the high drama of political crisis might have been useful politically for Sinn Féin, it did nothing for the prospects of any sort of functional government in Northern Ireland or improved services for citizens. Those fears have now been realised as the talks to restore the institutions have collapsed, unelected civil servants take control of department budgets and the British Secretary of State now travels back to London to decide whether he will impose Direct Rule on the North, launch the third election in less than a year, or try a new talks process.

“In the meantime, citizens become ever more disillusioned with the political process in Northern Ireland, important service and investment decisions are not taken, and the region most exposed to the threat of Brexit faces the negotiation process with no Government and no leadership.

“Sooner or later, those at the top of the DUP and Sinn Féin will have to realise that the needs of the wider community are greater than the needs of their organisations. Getting a government back in place in Northern Ireland isn’t just about providing a backdrop for political photocalls and press conferences – it’s about elected representatives taking seriously the responsibility that has been given to them and getting on with the business of governing.”