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Sinn Fein accuse DUP of ‘punishing the public’ after election of NI Assembly speaker blocked for second time

Sinn Fein have accused the DUP of “punishing the public” after the election of an Assembly Speaker at Stormont was blocked for the second time on Monday.

Failing to appoint a Speaker and Deputy Speaker means that the Executive cannot be formed, nor can the appointment of a First and Deputy First Minister be made.

The DUP are coming under increasing pressure from other parties, having declined to back a new speaker as part of an ongoing protest against the Northern Ireland protocol.

Sinn Fein’s vice president, Michelle O’Neill, said: “We had our second attempt today to try and get things up and running but unfortunately the DUP stand-off continues.

“We will come back again, we will do this again, because I’m not giving up. I believe in making this institution work.”

She continued: “The DUP are punishing the public. It is the public who are missing out. It is the public who are being held to ransom because of their actions.”

She added she was determined to “provide solutions” to the problem in order to bring the DUP back to the Executive table.

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Meanwhile, the Alliance MLA Nuala McAllister dismissed claims by the DUP that recalling the Assembly on Monday was a stunt.

“I spoke as a newly elected MLA because I want to get on with the job that I’ve been elected to do,” she said.

“That’s not only to establish an Executive but to actually scrutinise the work of the departments.

“We need to get on with the work so that we can help people in Northern Ireland that are currently facing hardship.”

The DUP MLA and former First Minister Paul Givan had said earlier that the Assembly recall had not been a “serious attempt” to restore power sharing.

“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,” he said.

“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 Ulster Unionist MLA Robbie Butler said his party was now calling for all-party talks in order to discuss a programme for government. 

The SDLP MLA Matthew O’Toole pointed out that the amount of MLAs who support the protocol actually increased at the last election.

SDLP MLA Matthew O’Toole said the number of MLAs who support the Northern Ireland Protocol increased in the recent Assembly election.

“Why is the DUP holding the people of Northern Ireland to hostage?

“They say it is all about the protocol,” he said.

“The protocol is an international treaty signed between the UK and the European Union.”

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) had nominated Mike Nesbitt for the role of Speaker, while the SDLP nominated Patsy McGlone.

A total of 53 members voted, but no nationalists voted Aye and only little over 25% of the unionists who voted, voted Aye, therefore the motion was negative.

Sinn Fein had proposed a petition to bring the Assembly back to meet on Monday – with support from Alliance and SDLP.

Former Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said in the chamber prior to the vote that “people want action, not protest.”

"The people have spoken… 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 said.

“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.”

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