Northern Ireland Assembly recalled to elect speaker and appoint first ministers

The Northern Ireland Assembly is to be recalled on Monday at noon, the Speaker's office has confirmed.

It comes after Sinn Fein tabled a motion which got the necessary 30 MLA signatures in order to have the sitting.

The Assembly confirmed the purpose of the sitting was to elect a speaker, deputy speakers and the first and deputy first minister.

The DUP has blocked the appointment of a Speaker over its protocol protest, meaning the business of the Assembly has been frustrated. Executive ministers remain in place but only in a caretaker capacity.

Sinn Fein welcomed the opportunity, saying it was "important" to attempt to re-establish the institutions. However, the DUP branded the move a "stunt".

"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," said First-Minister-in-waiting Michelle O'Neill.

"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 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 that we can get to a point where we can actually elect people into post."

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson reiterated "decisive action" was needed over the protocol in order to get the devolved institutions back up and running.

He added: "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 Fein on each occasion absented themselves from those proceedings most people out there will take with a pinch of salt Sinn Fein's new found determination to restore working institutions that they abandoned for three years.

"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 required to get us all to move forward."

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