'Unacceptable' for DUP to consider not electing speaker - O'Neill

Sinn Féin's vice-president says it is unacceptable that the DUP might try and block the election of a new Assembly speaker.

Michelle O'Neill was speaking after Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said on Wednesday that his party has not yet decided whether to vote to elect the speaker.

The Assembly is due to meet on Friday for the vote.

Ms O'Neill said: "What we need to see is the positions filled - First Minister, deputy First Minister, all the ministerial positions filled, and let's get down to doing business.

"I don't think it is good enough. It is not good enough for the people here that the DUP is holding society to ransom, punishing society, preventing the establishment of a Speaker and an Executive to actually respond to the things people are worried about.

"I don't think it is acceptable the position Jeffrey Donaldson has articulated today."

WATCH: Sinn Féin, DUP, Alliance, UUP and SDLP politicians debate the issues around the Protocol on View From Stormont.

The election of the new speaker is the first item on the agenda for MLAs following the election and requires cross-community support from nationalist and unionist members.

The DUP is refusing to return to the power-sharing Executive until its issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol are resolved.

Sir Jeffrey told BBC Radio Ulster his party would decide by Friday about electing a speaker.

He said: "I'm waiting to see what the Government has to say. So, that is the priority right now, to ensure that what the Government say is moving us in the right direction.

"I'm simply saying that we will need to make a decision on that. That's one of the decisions we've got to make."

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is set to tell the EU that the dispute over Northern Ireland cannot drag on, amid concerns in EU capitals the UK is poised to take unilateral action on the post-Brexit arrangements in the region.

Sir Jeffrey has said he will not leave the House of Commons to take up his seat in the Assembly until issues around the protocol are resolved.

On Wednesday, he stressed there was "unfinished business" at Westminster.

"If the Government are going to act, then I believe, as the unionist leader, I need to be here to see that through because it's fundamentally important," he said.

"There isn't a single unionist member of the Assembly elected last week who supports the Protocol. We can't go on with that kind of situation."

He also said he did not anticipate any DUP candidate who failed to secure a seat in the Assembly would be co-opted to represent Lagan Valley while he remains at Westminster.

He said the seat would not remain "vacant" and that an announcement on his temporary replacement would be made in the coming days.

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