Baroness Nuala O’Loan has described the failure of Sinn Féin and the DUP to work together as “a scandal” that has prevented funds being allocated across the North.
“Our schools, hospitals and infrastructure are being starved of resources which should be available. £42m remains available and unallocated from the spring budget,” she said, adding that funds available to deal with inquests and legacy issues cannot be put to use without political agreement.
“This is a scandal,” she said, continuing, “it is a year since the Lord Chief Justice asked for funds to be released to enable inquests to be held. The victims and survivors have waited too long.”
Expressing concern about how nationalist communities would have no voice in Westminster during the Brexit process, she said, “it seems none of our elected representatives will have a proper voice in our own Northern Ireland government since it seems to me that we are moving inexorably to direct rule, though I do hope that there will be agreement and we can move forward”.
While pointing out that constitutional processes mean that both the DUP and SF must accept the outcome of the election and work with it, she said the real question concerns how the processes of the Good Friday Agreement cannot work without the cooperation of all parties when “the two major parties are at loggerheads”.
Maintaining that “the Stormont Assembly has achieved virtually nothing since 2015”, she wondered what future the Assembly could have in these circumstances, asking: “So how can we make this part of the Good Friday Agreement work and get real democratic government working for the people of NI today?”
Peace campaigner Fr Gary Donegan has not given up hope, however, telling The Irish Catholic that while the general election campaign had derailed talks and the DUP are now “to some extent holding the Conservatives over a barrel”, the main difficulty is getting the parties to sit down together.
“When that actually happens, the actual resolution of this, we’re told, can happen actually quite quickly,” he said, continuing, “the problem is that there is a lot of brinksmanship going on”.