Stormont’s major parties slam DUP after Jeffrey Donaldson confirmed the party will not nominate a spokesman

Stormont’s other big four parties have criticized the DUP for refusing to endorse a new assembly speaker today.

he DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson confirmed that his party would not move forward without changes to the protocol.

Without cross-community support, a speaker cannot be installed and the congregation cannot function, even in a reduced role.

Reacting to the news, Sinn Fein Stormont Chairwoman Michelle O’Neill said on Twitter: “Today is the day we should form an executive to put money in people’s pockets and start fix our healthcare system.

“The DUP has confirmed that they will punish the public and will not appear. They shamefully hold the public as ransom for their Brexit mayhem. Shameful.”

The DUP had previously indicated as part of its protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol that it would not nominate for the post of Deputy First Minister, which would prevent the formation of a new executive.

And in a statement accompanying the News Letter published this morning, Mr Donaldson said: “Today the DUP will not support the election of a speaker in the assembly.

“Some parties that just a few months ago ridiculed the DUP’s promise of decisive action on protocol are the very same parties that are now feigning surprise and outrage at a political party delivering on its promise to voters.

“Devolution was restored on the basis of the New Decade, New Approach agreement. We have delivered or made significant progress on almost every aspect of this document except one.

“This is the UK Government’s promise to legislate to respect Northern Ireland’s place in the UK Single Market.

“Twenty-eight months since that promise was made and 16 months since it should have been delivered, unionists cannot bear accusations of impatience.”

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He added: “I have both patience and determination to ensure that the Irish Sea border is removed and a stable and sustainable decentralization is restored.

“Unionist concerns about the Northern Ireland Protocol are not just a political squabble affecting Stormont. The protocol is a direct challenge to the principles that have underpinned every agreement reached in Northern Ireland over the past 25 years. It undermines the foundations on which decentralization was built.”

MLAs are scheduled to meet at 12 noon where they will sign the register and designate as nationalists, unionists or other.

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Ulster, Alliance leader and Justice Secretary Naomi Long called the DUP’s move “incredibly frustrating” for society.

She said the public overwhelmingly supported candidates who promised to return to government.

“The DUP have said a big challenge for them is protocol, we’re not denying that, we understand that, but we also have to deal with healthcare, we have to deal with the cost of living crisis.

“We have to deal with climate change, we have to deal with the budget.

“There are many challenges that people face in society and many of them are much more acute than protocol.”

SDLP MLA Colin McGrath also told the program his first thoughts are with his constituents who are struggling to pay bills.

“It seems we won’t form an executive because the DUP doesn’t want that, they obviously don’t think the issues people are facing are important enough,” he told the BBC.

“They feel they have priorities other than people’s lives and livelihoods, and they feel they have to take an attitude that prevents us all from dealing with it.”

He added that there is a mechanism in the January 2020 New Decade New Approach agreement to allow for a shadow assembly with interim ministers to be set up in the event of disagreements.

“This very rule was put in place by the DUP, but they are now the ones who will try to thwart it.”

When asked about the protocol’s problems, Mr McGrath said the best way to deal with it was to form an opinion with an executive.

One suggestion of how to get around the deadlock was that SDLP and UUP label themselves as different, meaning they could combine with Alliance to form the second largest label in the assembly.

That means the alliance could appoint a deputy first minister without relying on the DUP.

Mr McGrath said it would not be right for his party to change its designation after receiving its mandate as a nationalist.

“You shouldn’t try to find solutions from the people who aren’t causing the problems,” he said.

Later in Good Morning Ulster, Ulster Unionist MLA Andy Allen called the DUP decision “extremely disappointing”.

“It is no surprise that they are increasing their pressure on the UK government and the EU to deal with the protocol, which has been a long time coming.”

He said setting it up as an assembly would enable many important functions to be carried out, such as establishing a task force on fuel poverty.

“Once again we are in a situation where Northern Ireland will not have an assembly, it will not have an executive, people will be harmed,” he said.

“You have to look at it carefully. We cannot allow this situation to continue for many, many months.”

Alliance MLA Sorcha Eastwood said the DUP’s behavior was “shameful”.

“Six years ago, the DUP bet on the wrong horse. They bet on a monumentally important referendum that gave us Brexit,” she said.

“NI voted to remain, but now six years later they have buyer remorse.

“Shameful. DUP doesn’t care one iota about NI or its people.” Stormont’s major parties slam DUP after Jeffrey Donaldson confirmed the party will not nominate a spokesman

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