SDLP leader Colum Eastwood says Sinn Féin and the DUP have brought the North to “the brink of Direct Rule.”
The Foyle MLA was speaking following comments by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire that the outlook for a deal to restore power-sharing was “not positive.”
“After 10 months of no government, after two elections and after month upon month of talking it appears that Sinn Féin and the DUP have brought us to the brink of Direct Rule," he said.
“It appears they have used their big mandates to achieve one thing; bringing British Direct Rule to Northern Ireland.
“While crises engulf our health services and our schools, they have talked for month after month and have only delivered failure.
“In particular for the nationalist community, after years of trying to bring power back to Irish soil in order that local people could make local decisions, it should be a source of great anger that all of that power and progress is now being handed back to a Tory-DUP government in London.
“Talk of a slow ‘glide path’ towards more British Government involvement in the North should fool no-one. A British Government delivering a budget in Westminster is Direct Rule. It cannot be painted or presented in any other way.
“In that context, if no deal is to be reached, it is critical that the Irish Government sticks by the position of Simon Coveney in ensuring that there can be no ‘British only Direct Rule’.
“Both traditions must be represented in the politics of the North - that is the basis of all our political agreements.
“In the absence of an Executive and Assembly, giving full and proper representation to those traditions falls on both the Irish and British Governments.”