The DUP has been accused of "gas-lighting the people of Northern Ireland" over the cost of living crisis.
Alliance MLA Patrick Brown made the claim during an interview on UTV's View from Stormont.
He said there was a need for an executive to be formed in order for politicians to implement supportive interventions to help families through ongoing price increases.
DUP MP Gavin Robinson rejected the claim and said the cost-of-living crisis "cannot be divorced" from the Northern Ireland Protocol.
He described Mr Brown's comments as "disrespectful".
Since the Assembly election in May, the DUP has refused to re-enter the executive or nominate a speaker until its concerns over the protocol - a Brexit trade deal made between the UK and EU - have been resolved.
Meanwhile Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard told the programme it was "simply not accurate" that the two issues cannot be dealt with separately, adding that history "will not absolve the DUP for walking away" from the Executive.
It comes after Liz Truss was named as the new Conservative party leader. She is set to officially replace Boris Johnson as prime minister on Tuesday afternoon.
Acknowledging that people are suffering, Mr Robinson said: "They’ve been suffering for some time now, I’m not going to mask it or ignore that we are all suffering.
"But we cannot divorce the protocol from that suffering, from within economics generally in Northern Ireland or in households more particularly," added the East Belfast MP.
"Last week the story was 25% tariffs on steel, brought to you not because of none other than the protocol.
"When Westminster brings forward significant moves to alleviate the pressures that are on people's households in Northern Ireland I hope that no party present in this interview will say it's okay, it doesn't apply in Northern Ireland because of the protocol."
Mr Hazzard said history would not "absolve the DUP for walking away on those people this winter who are going to struggle to heat their homes or feed their children".
"Times are very tough for families out there, we need to see action, resources to be put in place to help ordinary people.
"Because of the advantages of the protocol the north has been outperforming as an export region in recent months, we have seen economic indicators all on the up.
"I don't think it's accurate at all to relate the two."
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