Belfast Telegraph

Timeline: What triggered deadlock at Northern Ireland Assembly?

By Staff Reporter

January: Northern Ireland has been without a functioning devolved Executive since January 2017, when the resignation of the terminally-ill Martin McGuinness triggered the collapse of the Executive and Assembly in which he and DUP leader Arlene Foster had served as Deputy and First Minister respectively.

The months leading up to McGuinness's resignation had seen a political crisis building around the bungled Renewable Heat Incentive scheme. Sinn Fein declined to appoint a new Deputy First Minister, so bringing the Executive to an end.


February 15 - Michelle O'Neill, Sinn Fein's Stormont leader, said she would not go back into government with the DUP leader while there was an RHI "cloud hanging over her".

February 19 - Amid controversy about the prosecution of British soldiers for conflict crimes, Mrs O'Neill marked the deaths of four IRA men shot dead by the SAS in 1992 in her home village.

February 23 - The DUP demanded measures to ensure British soldiers who served in Northern Ireland cannot face probes into their actions during the conflict if they have already been investigated.


The Assembly elections called by the Secretary of State produced gains for Sinn Fein, with the party taking 27 seats, just one behind the DUP's total.

On March 6 The Secretary of State calls the party leaders together for a round of talks on the establishment of a new Executive. The next day Sinn Fein walked out of the talks, accusing the Secretary of State of 'waffle".

The March 27 deadline for formation of a new Executive passes without agreement between the parties.


The main points of contention between the two main parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein, remain the status of the Irish language here and how to deal with legacy issues and they fail to meet the Easter deadline for agreement.


The snap General Election results in gains for the DUP and Sinn Fein, but the UUP and SDLP lose all their Westminster seats. The DUP, with 10 MPs, become kingmakers in the hung Parliament, and agreed a confidence and supply deal with Mrs May's government which is planned to deliver £1bn in added spending here.


Talks resume at Stormont, but later Secretary of State James Brokenshire allows senior civil servants to run the devolved ministries as an 'interim measure' and warns that the political deadlock can't continue past autumn.


Healthcare is in the spotlight as Northern Ireland's health trusts launch public consultations about £70m cost saving measures. A UK bowel cancer programme cannot be extended to NI as there's no local Minister to approve it. Calls for Direct Rule become louder, with DUP MP Sammy Wilson calling on the Secretary of State to step in to fill the gap left by the absence of an Executive .

On August 31, and saying that unionists have 'nothing to fear' from the Irish Language, DUP leader Arlene Foster puts forward a proposal to resume talks. It is immediately rejected by Sinn Fein and the SDLP.

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