Sinn Féin calling for early election following Givan resignation

Sinn Féin calling for early election following Givan resignation

SINN FÉIN leader Mary Lou McDonald has called for an early election in the absence of a functioning Stormont Executive following the resignation of First Minister Paul Givan.

Givan announced his resignation yesterday, leading to the resignation of Sinn Féin's Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill as a result of a power sharing agreement.

"The Executive and Assembly have work to do," McDonald said. "This is not the time for reckless behaviour from the DUP. We are emerging from the pandemic, and we need to focus on addressing health waiting lists, tackling the rising costs of living and rebuilding the economy.

"The public want to see us working together to prioritise these issues."

There are currently several pieces of legislation awaiting further stages which will likely be put on hold if there is not enough time in the mandate which runs out at the end of March.

These include the Climate change (No.2) Bill, the Organ and Tissue Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill, the Protection from Stalking Bill, and the Adoption and Children Bill, amongst others.

"The Executive and Assembly have work to do and Michelle O’Neill has contacted the other party leaders to meet to ensure that any legislation that can be dealt with proceeds as quickly as possible,"  McDonald continued.

"However, we need to be clear the DUP actions have consequences – consequences for people struggling with cost of living, consequences for businesses trying to rebuild after Covid, consequences for health services. It is disgraceful that the budget now won’t be passed and that investment in services such as cancer care and mental health are now in jeopardy."

"The public expect politicians to work together to deal with the cost of living crisis, to tackle the health waiting list situation, to invest in cancer services, to do the right thing by victims and survivors to develop a strategy to tackle violence against women and girls," said Michelle O'Neill.

"That is all being set aside by the DUP, that is not good enough."

The Social Democratic and Labour Party leadership team has also written to Boris Johnson to remind him of his obligations as co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement and a signatory to the Withdrawal Agreement.

"The party political interests of the DUP cannot be allowed to eclipse the interests of people waiting on hospital treatment, people in need of welfare mitigations, people who expect and deserve basic public services," said Colum Eastwood MP.

"Resigning from government when people are struggling to provide for their families, heat their homes and deal with the cost of living tells you all you need to know about the DUP – for them the party will always come first and ordinary people come last."

SDLP Deputy Leader and Executive Minister Nichola Mallon MLA said:

"What message does this send to thousands of people on hospital waiting lists? What does it say to parents desperately trying to get additional support for their children? The selfishness is astounding."

The DUP's East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons has called Sinn Fein's attempt to exclude the DUP from the Party Leaders Forum "symbolic of the disrespect that Party has for the people the DUP represents".

"This approach by Sinn Fein is a further demonstration of their petty politics of exclusion," he said.

"The days of Sinn Fein expecting unionists to be seen, but not heard are over.

"For our part, the DUP is committed to working with all parties to repair our politics, reset relations and restore fairness for all."