Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire has said the UK government must “consider carefully” whether “it can continue to be justified to pay Assembly members who have not met for several months now”.
He was making the comments in a speech on Friday evening at a meeting of the British Irish Council in Cambridgeshire, a body which aims to promote positive relationships between Britain and Ireland.
Earlier this week, the Secretary of State revealed in a parliamentary response to North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon that he would be unable to stop MLA salaries, expenses and pension contributions without passing new legislation in Westminister.
Mr Brokenshire was speaking about the political impasse currently in place in Northern Ireland, with the devolved Assembly not having sat since January.
He warned: “If things don’t change we are on a glide path to greater and greater UK government intervention.”
Mr Brokenshire said civil servants had been running the country in the absence of Northern Ireland’s lawmakers taking their seats – but added that they “cannot provide the political direction”.
“Without devolution other aspects of the Belfast Agreement also cease to function, including North-South bodies and those covering broader relationships such as the British-Irish Council,” he said.
“And of course without devolution, there is no Northern Ireland Executive to put its views directly on Brexit.
“The situation simply is not sustainable and if it is not resolved within a relatively short number of weeks will require greater political decision making from Westminster.”
Mr Brokenshire will join new talks between the parties on Monday about the reestablishment of the Stormont Assembly, with discussions between Sinn Fein and the DUP continuing throughout the week.
Belfast Telegraph Digital