Deadline for Northern Ireland Assembly election set to be extended again

The Stormont institutions have remained in flux since the election in May 2022. Credit: PA

The deadline for a Northern Ireland Assembly election to be called if no Executive is formed is set to be extended again, UTV understands.

The last deadline passed on 20 January and since then, Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris has been under a legal duty to propose a new date within 12 weeks.

However it now appears Mr Heaton-Harris is set to push the timeline back.

In a statement on Wednesday morning, a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Office said: “On 20 January, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland fell under a legal duty to propose a date for further elections to the NI Assembly.

"He has since engaged widely across Northern Ireland and will provide an update on next steps in the near future."

The ongoing DUP block on the functioning of power-sharing, in protest at the Northern Ireland protocol, has ensured the Stormont institutions have remained in flux since the last Assembly election in May 2022.

The Executive collapsed three months earlier when the DUP withdrew its first minister.

Chris Heaton-Harris has expressed hope that a breakthrough on talks between the EU and UK on Irish Sea trade can deliver a solution that facilitates the return of power-sharing.

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