‘Punishing the public’: Sinn Fein leader slams DUP for holding NI ‘at ransom’

DUP are 'punishing the public' says Sinn Fein leader

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After a second attempt to get Stormont up and running again in Northern Ireland was blocked by the DUP, Ms O’Neill said she was “determined” to try again. She said it was “incumbent upon all of us” to form an executive and help “families through the cost of living crisis”. The NI Assembly was recalled today to elect a speaker of the house, among several other roles, but had to be suspended after the two nominations failed to secure enough cross-party support, in part because of a DUP refusal. 

The Sinn Fein vice president said: “Well, the DUP are punishing the public and it’s the public who are missing out. 

“It’s the public who are being held at ransom because of [the DUP’s] actions. 

“That being said, it’s incumbent on all of us who have been given a mandate to try to make politics work. 

“And it’s incumbent upon all of us who want to be around the executive table, who want to be taking on the challenges of today, to support workers and families through the cost of living crisis. 

“We want to keep coming back and actually get this thing up and running. 

“The public voted for us to actually roll up our sleeves and provide solutions to the problems of today. I’m determined to try to do that.” 

The Sinn Fein vice president was speaking after the DUP blocked attempts to elect a new speaker for the second time.

The DUP, who described the recalling of the Assembly today as a “stunt”, is maintaining its position that it wants to see action from the UK Government over the Northern Ireland Protocol before backing a new speaker to allow the Assembly to start fully functioning again.

The two nominations for the role, the Ulster Unionists’ Mike Nesbitt and the Social Democratic and Labour Party‘s Patsy McGlone, failed to secure the necessary cross-community support from Members of the Legislative Assembly.

The plenary session of the Assembly was then suspended as business cannot be carried out without a speaker.

MLAs were in the chamber today following a recall petition brought by Sinn Fein to elect a speaker, deputy speakers and to appoint a first minister and deputy first minister.

Ms O’Neill said her party will try again to get a new speaker elected.

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Alliance MLA Nuala McAllister dismissed the DUP’s claim that the recall of the Assembly was a stunt, saying the only stunt pulled in recent weeks has been their blocking of the restoration of the power-sharing institutions.

Ms McAllister said: “I spoke as a newly elected MLA because I want to get on with the job that I’ve been elected to do. 

“That’s not only to establish an Executive but to actually scrutinise the work of the departments.

“We need to get on with the work so that we can help people in Northern Ireland that are currently facing hardship.

“Any consequence from now, from the day that the DUP walked away from the Executive, any hardships that people are facing are on the heads of the DUP.

“Whether that’s people who cannot afford to feed their children or heat their homes, those are the decisions of the DUP that are affecting the people of Northern Ireland.”

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