Eastwood: ‘Shameful’ there is no Executive amid winter ‘panic’ over bills but SoS says ‘huge swathe’ disrupted by Protocol

Colum Eastwood has said it is ‘pretty shameful’ there is no power-sharing Executive as we face into a winter of ‘panic’ over bills but Chris Heaton-Harris has said the lives of a ‘huge swathe of the unionist community’ have been disrupted by the Irish Protocol of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
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Speaking in the British House of Commons on Wednesday the SDLP leader said he agreed with the Secretary of State’s decision not to call an election before Christmas.

“Can I thank the Secretary of State for recognising that an election at this time is a bad idea, would make things worse rather than better, and recognise that there would have to be arrangements put in place in the absence of an Executive?” he asked.

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However, the Foyle MP said that it was ‘shameful’ there is no Executive in place at present.

Colum EastwoodColum Eastwood
Colum Eastwood

“Does he agree with me that it is actually pretty shameful that in the middle of winter, when people and businesses are panicking about their bills, we have one party who are stopping a government being formed in NI so we can deal with those issues?

“Surely now is the time to put these arrangements aside, to have a DUP deputy First Minister go into Stormont and have an Executive to deal with the priorities of the people?” he asked.

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Mr. Heaton-Harris described this as ‘unrealistic’ given unionist concerns over the Protocol.

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"I think it would be quite a leap of faith actually for that to happen at this point in time. I have to deal with the reality of the situation that we find ourselves in.

"There is a huge swathe of the unionist community, as he well knows, that finds their lives disrupted and really does worry about the implications here.

“I completely understand the sentiment he has because there are also important issues that affect every single person in NI when it comes to energy and a whole host.

“That is why I am bringing forward legislation to hopefully create the time and space, as I say time and time again, for the UK and the EU to develop talks and for the parties to work together in the hope that we can restore the devolved institutions as soon as possible,” he said.