Latest bid to restore power-sharing at Stormont Assembly ends in failure

Politicians were recalled to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Credit: UTV

The latest attempt to restore Northern Ireland's power-sharing institutions at Stormont has failed.

The DUP was accused of being addicted to power but hating responsibility during a heated recall session of the Assembly on Wednesday.

The claim was made as the DUP faced down criticism from rival parties over its ongoing boycott of the institutions in Belfast.

While Alliance, the UUP and SDLP denounced the DUP stance, the TUV insisted no unionist should be involved in a power-sharing administration while the Northern Ireland Protocol remains in place.

During the recall debate, Alliance Party MLA Kellie Armstrong accused the DUP of using the stalled energy support payments as "leverage" in a political game with the UK Government.

She added: "Today the DUP has a choice - elect the Speaker and let us all get on with helping constituents in Northern Ireland, or continue your boycott and leave constituents in the cold this winter."

UUP leader Doug Beattie claimed the DUP's primary interest is preventing votes going to the TUV.

"They do not care about people being hungry, they do not care about people being cold," he said.

"They don't care about waiting lists. They don't care services are being undermined. They don't care nurses are going on strike. They don't care some of our most vulnerable older people are going to die cold and hungry.

"The DUP care about the DUP and taking votes back off the TUV. That's all they care about."

SDLP MLA Matthew O'Toole, the leader of the Assembly's official opposition, claimed the DUP "hates responsibility".

"The tragedy is the DUP is addicted to power but hates responsibility," he said.

"The DUP wants the power to be able to assert a tribal veto over progress in this place, of being able to say 'Unless this happens on our terms, it's not going to happen at all'.

"They seek that power, they assert that power as they have done in the chamber today ... but they refuse to take responsibility, responsibility for leading people, for helping people in a cost-of-living emergency, and it's absolutely disgraceful, Mr Acting Speaker.

"Always shirking, always deflecting, it's always someone else's fault."

However, TUV leader Jim Allister said devolution is untenable while the protocol's economic barriers on trade with Great Britain remain in place.

"There no longer is a single market in the United Kingdom, there no longer is the freedom to trade unfettered between and within all of the United Kingdom," he said.

"And indeed it (the protocol) goes further than that - it says GB is now a foreign country whose goods must be checked coming to Northern Ireland.

"That is the fundamental reason why no unionist can ever operate institutions which by law would be required to implement such a protocol."

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