MLAs return to Stormont in final attempt to avoid election

MLAs return to Stormont in final attempt to avoid election

MLAs ARE to return to Stormont today as the deadline for the calling of new Assembly elections approaches.

The deadline for the calling of another election is tomorrow, with a six-month legislative time frame to form an administration expiring just after midnight tonight.

In those six months since May's election, an executive has failed to be formed as a result of the Democratic Unionist Party refusing to elect a speaker over its issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Today, final attempts to elect a speaker will be underway, although it is expected the DUP will again veto to block it.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has repeatedly warned that he will call a poll if Friday’s deadline passes without a devolved executive being formed.

Mr Heaton-Harris met with Northern Ireland political party leaders on Wednesday and reiterated the importance of restoring the executive.

He said:

“Since I have become Secretary of State, I have consistently been clear that if the Executive is not formed by October 28, I will call an election.

“Time is running out, and people in Northern Ireland deserve locally elected decision-makers and an executive who can respond to the issues facing people, families and communities across Northern Ireland during this challenging time.

“We are clear that people deserve an accountable devolved government and that was my message to party leaders.”

During the Stormont recall, MLAs are set to debate a motion, tabled by Sinn Féin in consultation with the Alliance Party, that will focus on the cost-of-living crisis, the instability at Westminster and the absence of devolved government at Stormont

While Northern Ireland has no first or deputy first ministers, other ministers who served in the previous mandate have remained in post following May’s election, and have been constrained in the decisions they can take.

If Friday’s deadline passes without a full executive having been established, those remaining ministers will cease to hold office.