Stormont must not become paralysed by repeated DUP threats to collapse the institutions, Conor Murphy has warned.
The Sinn Fein Finance Minister said DUP rhetoric about withdrawing from the Executive was less about its opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol and more about trying to shore up electoral support ahead of the election.
His comments come after DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said last week he could not guarantee that First Minister Paul Givan would still be in post this week.
Sir Jeffrey has repeatedly threatened to take action if major changes to the Brexit protocol governing Irish Sea trade are not secured.
It is understood one option the party is considering is withdrawing Mr Givan from post, but keeping its other ministers in position.
While this would enable ministers to continue running their own departments, significant decisions that require overall Executive approval could not be taken.
Just to be clear, if they do pull out the First Minister or do take some pre-emptive action, it is about the election, it is about trying to spook the unionist electorate in creating a crisisFinance minister Conor Murphy
After talks with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Thursday, Mr Givan indicated the DUP deadline for taking action may be pushed back to February 21 pending the outcome of a key meeting between the UK and EU.
“We cannot allow ourselves to be paralysed with the chaos that’s going on within the DUP,” Mr Murphy told BBC NI’s Sunday Politics.
“The Executive has a lot of work to conclude before the end of the mandate, the Assembly has a lot of work to conclude, there are very important bills that are going through in relation to organ donation, stalking, protection of women and the Executive.
“Clearly we’re trying to get a budget through which would help transform health and tackle big issues like waiting lists and cancer services and mental health issues.
“So we can’t, and the rest of the parties in the Executive cannot, and we haven’t allowed ourselves to, be paralysed with the year-long now chaos and very public chaos going on within the DUP.
“Just to be clear, if they do pull out the First Minister or do take some pre-emptive action, it is about the election, it is about trying to spook the unionist electorate in creating a crisis and spook them into voting and saving DUP seats come May 5 – that’s what this is about, it’s not about tackling the protocol.”