Stormont assembly recalled in new attempt to elect Speaker | Northern Irish politics

The Stormont assembly is to meet on Monday in a new attempt to nominate a Speaker after more than 30 members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) signed a recall petition.

The Sinn Féin vice-president, Michelle O’Neill, said it was important that the assembly “meets to get down to business” and starts delivering for the public.

But the leader of the Democratic Unionist party (DUP), Jeffrey Donaldson, described the recall motion from Sinn Féin as a stunt.

The DUP has blocked the election of a Speaker and the formation of an executive after the Northern Ireland assembly elections, as part of its protest against the Northern Ireland protocol.

After a motion from Sinn Féin, the outgoing Speaker, Alex Maskey, said in a letter to MLAs that the purpose of Monday’s recall was to elect a Speaker, deputy speakers and to appoint a first minister and deputy first minister.

O’Neill said: “It’s really important that we recall the assembly and that we attempt, once again, to form an executive and get the assembly up and running to deal with the cost of living crisis, to deal with fixing our health service and every other issue that is pending.

“I am glad that other parties have supported our recall petition because this means we have another opportunity to elect a Speaker, put ministers into posts and get down to business and start to deliver for the public.

“That is the democratic outworking of the election and that must be respected. I’m glad all of us who want to make politics work will be in that chamber on Monday and will debate this. I hope we can get to a point where we can actually elect people into post.”

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But Donaldson said his party would continue to block the return of the devolved power-sharing institutions until it saw action over the protocol.

He said: “When you consider that for three long years, and on a number of occasions during that period when this assembly was recalled to elect a Speaker, that Sinn Féin on each occasion absented themselves from those proceedings, most people out there will take with a pinch of salt Sinn Féin’s new-found determination to restore working institutions that they abandoned for three years.

“And if they think pulling a stunt like this next Monday is going to change things, then they really don’t understand unionism and our determination to stand our ground until we get the decisive action that is required to move us all forward.”

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