Assembly recalled for sitting ahead of Friday deadline to form Executive

The Assembly is set to meet on Thursday, ahead of the Friday deadline to form an Executive before Northern Ireland faces another election.

Speaker Alex Maskey says a recall petition has met the required 30 signatures, with support from Sinn Féin and the Alliance Party.

The DUP, which is blocking the formation of a new new Executive as part of its protest over the Northern Ireland Protocol, has already branded the recall a "stunt".

Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill said "now more than ever, we need all parties working together and prioritising supporting people".

Mr Maskey says the Assembly will convene at 12pm on Thursday for another attempt to elect a new speaker and nominate a First Minister and deputy First Minister.

MLAs will also debate a motion tabled by several of the Stormont parties.

The motion reads: "That this Assembly expresses deep concern at the deepening cost of living crisis; is further concerned that the ongoing instability at Westminster has compounded these financial pressures; and supports the urgent convening of an Executive to support our public services and provide urgent help for those struggling with the cost-of-living crisis."

The first failed attempt to elect a new speaker came in May following the election, and it has been recalled on a further two occasions since.

Reacting to the recall, DUP MLA Gordon Lyons said: "We don’t need recall stunts, Northern Ireland needs a lasting solution which unionists can support.

"Power-sharing is not possible without such an agreement.

"We are always willing to explain the problems one more time, but Sinn Fein has ignored unionism’s warnings for more than two years.

"That’s not the behaviour of people who believe in power-sharing.”

SDLP MLA Matthew O’Toole said: “The DUP have an opportunity this Thursday to get back to work, allow the Stormont institutions to function and prevent a winter election that will solve none of the issues facing us in the North at the minute.

"An election won’t get support to those struggling due to the cost of living emergency, it won’t cut our hospital waiting lists and it won’t facilitate an agreement on the Protocol.

“The SDLP will once again be nominating Patsy McGlone to the position of Speaker on Thursday and I’d ask every party to support him so that we can avoid an election and get back to work.

"We need to be focusing on the issues that are facing people in their everyday lives and solutions like the SDLP’s home heating oil proposal to get people through the winter, not burning more time and money to get nowhere."

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