Any deal to restore powersharing at Stormont must end the cycle of political stand-off between Northern Ireland’s two main parties, the SDLP leader has warned.
Colum Eastwood said it is not enough to simply form a new executive.
“The real change necessary is an end to the cycle of two parties who have proved themselves very good at the art of political stand-off but very bad at the responsibility of government.
“That is the joint DUP/Sinn Fein status quo that must now end,” he said.
Mr Eastwood said a deal to end the political stalemate is within reach.
On Saturday, Sinn Fein’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill said talks are likely to draw to a close this week.
Mr Eastwood said: “Any new Government must use its power to tackle the real challenges faced by this society, it must be a new government which ends the decade long pattern of DUP intransigence and Sinn Fein weakness.
“Most of all, it must be a new government which proves itself of actual relevance and value to all our people.”
Mr Eastwood added that when powersharing is restored, focus must return immediately to the threat posed by Brexit, the economy and the crises in the health service and school budgets.
“Having been frozen in failure for over a year, a deal must not be a moment of self-congratulation for Sinn Fein and the DUP.
“If a deal is done, it must instead be a moment when our politics returns to the real challenges and crises facing this society.”
That rift subsequently widened to take in long-running disputes over culture, social issues and legacy.
The main sticking point preventing the restoration of an executive is the Irish language.
Sinn Fein want a stand-alone piece of legislation to protect speakers – an Irish Language Act – but the DUP has long insisted it would only countenance new laws if they also incorporate other cultures, such as Ulster Scots.
Finding a compromise resolution to the dispute that will satisfy both parties is key to breaking the Stormont deadlock.