THE SECRETARY of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris has confirmed that an election in Northern Ireland will not take place before the end of the year.
The deadline for forming a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly and power sharing executive following May's election ran out at midnight last Friday.
The onus then fell on Heaton-Harris to call an election within 12 weeks, as stipulated by legislation.
In a statement released today, he clarified that an election will not take place ahead of the festive season.
“At midnight on 28 October, I came under a duty to call an Assembly election. Since then, my engagement with the political parties has continued.
"I have had valuable conversations with people across Northern Ireland, including business and community representatives. I have listened to their sincere concerns about the impact and cost of an election at this time.
"I can now confirm that no Assembly election will take place in December, or ahead of the festive season. Current legislation requires me to name a date for an election to take place within 12 weeks of 28 October and next week, I will make a statement in Parliament to lay out my next steps."
He said his objective, and what the people of Northern Ireland deserve, "is the restoration of a strong devolved government."
"My duty is to create the right environment for the parties in Northern Ireland to work together to restore the devolved institutions and deliver on crucial issues impacting Northern Ireland’s people.
SDLP MP for Belfast South Claire Hanna said it is "the right call" to announce there will be no election in Northern Ireland before Christmas.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland she said the election was "not going to resolve anything" and probably would deepen divisions.