Northern Ireland: Stormont Assembly fails to elect new speaker blocking formation of new government

·2-min read

Northern Ireland's Stormont Assembly has failed to elect a new speaker for the second time, once again blocking the formation of a new government.

The DUP refused to back the move, arguing it needed to see action from the UK government over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Unionists oppose the post-Brexit treaty because of the economic barriers it creates between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The two nominees for the role, the Ulster Unionists' Mike Nesbitt and the SDLP's Patsy McGlone, failed to secure the necessary support from MLAs.

The Assembly's plenary session was then suspended as business cannot be carried out without a speaker.

MLAs had returned to the chamber on Monday following a recall petition brought by Sinn Fein to elect a speaker, deputy speakers and to appoint a first minister and deputy first minister.

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill had earlier told the chamber: "The people have spoken and they want action, not protest.

"They want the parties and every single MLA elected to this democratic institution to get their sleeves rolled up and to get down to business."

She added: "The DUP's stand-off is with the public and not with the European Union.

"As I stand here today I am ready to work with others."

However, DUP MLA Paul Givan said the recall was not a "serious attempt" to restore power sharing.

He said: "Today's recall is another attempt at majority rule and has no credibility when it comes forward from the party that kept these institutions down for three years.

"The public will see the hypocrisy for what it is from Sinn Fein.

"This isn't a serious attempt to restore the principles of power sharing and these institutions. It is a stunt."

The DUP faced criticism last week after concerns were raised that the absence of an Executive will prevent a UK-wide £400 discount on energy bills going to households in Northern Ireland.

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