Legislation going through Stormont can still become law despite the resignation of the DUP First Minister - and should be the focus of the Executive, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has said.
"People in Northern Ireland have already been robbed of three years in this mandate when Sinn Fein collapsed things, now the DUP is trying to collapse things and rob people of the very little time we have left in this mandate,” she told BBC’s Good Morning Ulster radio show.
"I think we would best serve our citizens by doing our jobs and by using every single minute we have left to get the remaining legislation and regulations through the Assembly."
The SDLP deputy leader stated that her party “is ready for an election and has been for months” but that they are more focused on legislation and are adamant against “falling into the trap” she believes the DUP has created with Paul Givan’s resignation.
"An early election means a lot of that will fall. We shouldn’t give the DUP what they want, which is a very toxic and hostile background, so that they can scare people to the polls, telling them that their identity is in crisis, and their Britishness is under threat,” continued the north Belfast MLA.
As Mr Givan tendered his resignation, Sinn Fein called on the Secretary of State to call an early election, but there are fears that essential laws could be stymied if this occurs.
There has been speculation that May’s Assembly election could be fast-forwarded, with voters going to the polls as early as March 10. The DUP has also signalled its support for that prospect.
“This is a demonstration of parties lurching from crisis to crisis, and people here don’t need that,” Ms Mallon added.
"People do have a crisis - the spiralling cost of living - and what they expect and deserve is that politicians deliver for them.”
The Executive is due to have a meeting next Thursday regarding the lifting of Covid-19 guidance and restrictions across Northern Ireland, which is another reason why Ms Mallon cited Mr Givan’s resignation as being “reckless”.
“We shouldn’t have restrictions on peoples lives and livelihoods for a minute longer than is absolutely necessary,” she said.
“The right and proper place for these restrictions to be examined in terms of evidence enlisted is in the Executive - which again shows how reckless all of this is.