Michelle O'Neill tells MLAs people want action not protest in Assembly recall

Northern Ireland's First-Minister-in-waiting Michelle O'Neill has told MLAs that the people want action, not protest.

She was speaking as the Stormont Assembly has been recalled in a fresh bid to elect a speaker, deputy speakers and to appoint a first minister and deputy first minister.

Whilst the debate was ongoing, the Secretary of State Brandon Lewis tweeted urging parties to elect a Speaker and 'move forward with the formation of an Executive.'

Speaking at the debate, the Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill told the chamber: "The people have spoken and they want action, not protest.

"They want the parties and every single MLA elected to this democratic institution to get their sleeves rolled up and to get down to business."

She added: "The DUP's stand-off is with the public and not with the European Union.

"As I stand here today I am ready to work with others."

Two MLAs, Mike Nesbitt of the Ulster Unionists and Patsy McGlone of the SDLP, have been nominated for the role of speaker.

DUP MLA Paul Givan said the recall by Sinn Fein of the Stormont Assembly was not a "serious attempt" to restore powersharing.

DUP MLA Paul Givan speaking at the debate. Credit: UTV

He told MLAs: "Today's recall is another attempt at majority rule and has no credibility when it comes forward from the party that kept these institutions down for three years.

"The public will see the hypocrisy for what it is from Sinn Fein.

"This isn't a serious attempt to restore the principles of power sharing and these institutions. It is a stunt."

Alliance Party MLA Nuala McAllister said a restored Assembly at Stormont could begin to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

She told MLAs: "There is much that can be done by an executive to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

"At the heart of this cost-of-living crisis is our Government's failure to act and that is something that we all take responsibility for.

"But we are ready to take decisions to alleviate those stresses and give people who have been voiceless for so long hope.

"Those of us who want to get on with the job are more than desperate to do so."

Ulster Unionist MLA Robbie Butler said his party wanted all-party talks to begin on a programme for government.

He told the recalled Assembly: "The UUP have written today to the head of the civil service to contravene all-party talks to establish a programme for government and the minister for finance to reopen the public consultation on the budget

"These are measures which should be done now to restore the confidence of the people of Northern Ireland that we all purport to serve."

SDLP MLA Matthew O'Toole said that the number of MLAs who support the Northern Ireland Protocol had increased in the recent Assembly election.

He asked MLAs: "Why is the DUP holding the people of Northern Ireland to hostage?

"They say it is all about the (Northern Ireland) Protocol.

"The protocol is an international treaty signed between the UK and the European Union.

"The number of MLAs who support the protocol went up in the last election."

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