Sinn Fein MLA Deirdre Hargey has accused the DUP of holding people to ransom
A Sinn Fein MLA has warned that a £400 payment to help with the cost of living crisis could be held up by the DUP.
Appearing on BBC NI’s Sunday Politics programme Deirdre Hargey said a one-off means tested payment of up to £650 payment can be issued over the summer based on data already held for those in receipt of benefits.
However the former communities minister said emergency legislation is needed to issue a universal energy discount payment due in the autumn.
"Legislation is needed within the assembly – we need to find a way to pass that emergency legislation,” she said.
"The best way is to have a formed Executive.”
Ms Hargey revealed Finance Minister Connor Murphy is working with Treasury to try and find a “work around” to hurdles she blamed on Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s party.
"People are really struggling and they are concerned about the lack of an assembly – it’s disgraceful that the DUP is holding institutions here to ransom.”
It comes as MLAs prepare to return to Stormont on Monday in a bid to restore power sharing, however efforts have already been discounted as a waste of time.
A speaker cannot be elected without support from the DUP which it has refused to do until there is "action" on the NI Protocol.
Ms Hargey called on the party to “get back in the executive” and work for those who elected its MLAs just three weeks ago.
"What they are really doing is holding people to ransom because this £450 payment cannot be made,” she said.
The Sinn Fein MLA denied that Monday’s recall is a political stunt after being reminded of Michelle O’Neill’s comments during a similar effort to restore Stormont in 2019.
Ms O’Neill branded anyone who attended then as “clowns” in Arlene Foster’s “circus”.
"It’s not a waste of time,” Ms Hargey insisted.
"People are crying out for help.”
Ms Hargey said the ongoing dispute about the NI Protocol should be sorted out between the British Government and the European Union.