STORMONT STALEMATE Sinn Fein accuse DUP of ‘holding public to ransom’ by refusing to select Stormont speaker over Northern Ireland protocol
The DUP scuppered today’s hopes for a new start in powersharing by refusing to appoint a Storm
A week after winning 90 MLAs, leader Jeffrey Donaldson said the Northern Ireland Protocol must go.
Following the election of 90 MLAs, Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill said the DUP was “disgracefully holding the public to ransom”.
“Today is the day we should form an Executive to put money in people’s pockets and fix our health service,” she said.
“The DUP have confirmed they will not attend.”
The Alliance leader, Naomi Long, called the move “hugely frustrating.”
New and returning MLAs signed in on Friday morning, ahead of the scheduled relaunch.
But the DUP was never going to play ball.
The DUP, now second in Stormont after Sinn Fein, said it would not nominate a Speaker or a deputy first minister.
Sir Jeffrey said: “We have decided not to support the Speaker election at this stage.
“I believe we need to make it very clear to the EU and our government that we mean business.”
The post-Brexit trade deal, he said, “undermines political stability.”
“The Government must act decisively,” he added.
Michael Martin slammed the DUP, saying its problems “should not prevent the Assembly from being established.”
“I believe the people elected an Assembly, and the Assembly should meet and form an executive,” he said.
COMMON SENSE NEEDED
Unionists had raised Protocol concerns with Martin, but he called for “pragmatism and common sense” and “putting Northern Ireland first.”
He said the EU had shown flexibility in dealing with Protocol concerns, but the British government had not.
Revocation of the Northern Ireland Protocol would be “anti-democratic,” said Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.
However, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis expressed disappointment at the lack of a Speaker nomination.
A stable and accountable devolved government for Northern Ireland, he said.
“I urge the parties to form an Executive.”
Today, tensions between London and the EU boiled over.
When it comes to border checks on goods going to Northern Ireland, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says the UK will have “no choice but to act.”
The DUP, which walked out of Stormont in February, says the Protocol must be reworked or scrapped.
No renegotiations say the EU.
Former DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly was among those at Stormont on Friday.