DUP to join Northern Ireland Assembly, block formation

DUP to join Northern Ireland Assembly, block formation

The DUP has pledged to join the Stormont assembly and block the formation of an executive in a dramatic escalation of its campaign against the Northern Ireland protocol.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, said his party would not nominate a speaker when the assembly meets Friday afternoon for its inaugural session, a move that will cause a derailing of the legislature and raises the stakes in a dispute over protocol between London and Brussels.

The party had been expecting to block the appointment of a first and deputy first minister in the power-sharing executive, but in a statement on Friday it said it would also pull the plug on the assembly to pressure the UK government to take decisive action on the protocol.

Sinn F, the largest party in Stormont after last week s local elections, called the announcement shameful and brought about a political crisis in Northern Ireland after Sinn F overtook the DUP as the biggest party, making Sinn F's deputy leader Michelle O Neill the putative first minister.

The DUP move is intended to send a signal to Downing Street and the European Union that the party is willing to ratchet up tensions in Northern Ireland to get changes to the protocol, which puts post-Brexit checks on goods entering the region from Great Britain.

Donaldson said in a statement to the Belfast News Letter that the DUP will not support the election of a speaker in the assembly. The protocol is a challenge to the principles that have underpinned every agreement reached in Northern Ireland over the last 25 years. It erodes the very foundations that devolution has been built upon. I have patience and determination to see the Irish Sea border removed and stable as well as sustainable devolution, as stated by Donaldson at no instant resolution to the impasse. With reduced powers, the mothballing of Stormont means civil servants and ministers from the outgoing administration will run Northern Ireland in what has been called a zombified state. DUP strategists hope that this will embolden Boris Johnson, the prime minister, and Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, and strengthen their hand in a showdown with the EU Commission. They have threatened to abandon parts of the protocol, but Donaldson said he wanted action, not words.

Today is the day that we should start forming an executive to put money in peoples pockets and fix our health service, said O Neill. The DUP will punish the public and not turn up. They are disgracefully holding the public to ransom for their Brexit mess. The Royal College of Nursing, the British Medical Association of Northern Ireland, the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, and the Royal College of GPs warned that failure to form an executive would endanger patients lives.

Our health service is on the verge of collapse, according to a joint statement.

Naomi Long, the Alliance party leader, called the DUP move a disgrace. She said we need the NHS fixed, the cost of living addressed and a budget set. How will this help?