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NI Assembly to meet Thursday for last-minute attempt to avoid December election

The assembly will meet to try and appoint a Speaker, Deputy Speakers, First Minister and deputy First Minister

THE NORTHERN IRISH Assembly has been summoned to meet on Thursday at 12pm to try to form an executive before Friday’s deadline passes, which would see a new election called in the region.

NI Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris warned last week that if the Assembly couldn’t form a powersharing executive between Sinn Féin and the DUP by 28 October he would call an election for 15 December.

Assembly Speaker, Alex Maskey, issued a statement today declaring that he had received a valid notice from 30 Members to call the assembly for a meeting in order to elect a Speaker and Deputy Speakers, to appoint a First Minister and deputy First Minister and all other Executive Ministers.

If these positions can be successfully filled there will also be a debate on the cost of living crisis.

Maskey intends to meet with Party Whips tomorrow.

However, the DUP remains steadfast that it will not form an executive at Stormont unless economic barriers on trade between Britain and Northern Ireland are removed. 

Leader of the DUP, Jeffrey Donaldson also said that calling another Stormont election will not bring a resolution to the Northern Ireland Protocol dispute any closer.

Donaldson told the PA news agency his party was ready to fight an election if the UK Government calls one.

Earlier today Donaldson tweeted:

“Uniting our country – the United Kingdom means replacing the protocol with arrangements that respect & restore Northern Ireland’s place in the Union. The integrity of the U.K. Internal Market must be properly protected. This is what’s needed to secure a fully functioning Stormont.”

The DUP has refused to engage with the devolved institutions in Belfast in the wake of May’s Assembly election, meaning it has not been possible to form a ministerial executive.

The SDLP’s leader of the opposition at Stormont, Matthew O’Toole has said that Thursday’s meeting is a chance for the DUP to do the right thing and allow the restoration of the institutions before an election.

“Before May’s election every party promised to do everything within their power to support people dealing with rising costs and energy bills and due to the DUP’s boycott, this hasn’t happened,” he said.

“Despite their selfish actions, their demands around the Protocol have not been met and the new British government will soon enter negotiations with the EU to reach an agreement.”

With additional reporting from PA

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