Sinn Fein wins victory in Northern Ireland Assembly election
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The Prime Minister will go to Belfast on Monday to meet with Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill. Mr Johnson’s visit comes as the DUP refused to support the election of a new speaker in Stormont, blocking the formation of a new Government.
Downing Street has not yet confirmed Mr Johnson will be visiting Northern Ireland.
It is understood however he will focus on talks with the Northern Irish parties to try to get power-sharing arrangements back on track.
Ms O’Neill told reporters she was expecting the Prime Minister in Northern Ireland on Monday.
The Sinn Fein official said she will tell Mr Johnson to “stop pandering to the DUP” amid the power sharing row.
She also said she will tell the Prime Minister the UK needs “to get on and work with the Commission and find ways to smooth the implementation of the protocol and stop holding us to ransom for their game-playing”.
Ms O’Neill added: “They are playing a game of chicken with the European Commission right now, and we are caught in the middle. That’s not good enough.”
Boris to send direct Sinn Fein Brexit ultimatum in DAYS as O’Neill fumes at UK ‘pandering’ (Image: PA)
Michelle O’Neill said Boris will be in Northern Ireland on Monday over a Stormont row (Image: PA)
Ms O’Neill accused the DUP of “punishing the electorate” with its refusal to join the Government.
Speaking to reporters in the Great Hall after the Assembly was adjourned, Ms O’Neill said the DUP’s action to boycott the election of an Assembly speaker “isn’t tolerable, it isn’t acceptable, it isn’t good enough”.
She added: “I would say to the DUP to get real, to understand the public need a functioning executive, to understand that we need to be in this executive together, working together for the people that have elected us, and that the protocol issues can be resolved alongside that work.”
O’Neill will tell Boris to ‘stop pandering to the DUP’ and to support forming an executive (Image: PA)
The DUP have refused to nominate a speaker in Stormont over their Protocol concerns (Image: EXPRESS)
Alliance Party leader Naomi Long also said it had been a “shameful day” for the DUP.
Speaking in the Great Hall, a visibly angry Mrs Long said: “Despite the fact that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland voted for parties that wanted to return to government, that wanted to see the Assembly work, and despite the fact that even those who voted for the DUP gave them no mandate to block a return to the Assembly, we have found ourselves in that situation today.
“But while this is a sad day for the people of Northern Ireland, it is a shameful day for the DUP.
“The day the DUP came to Stormont, signed the register, took their salaries but refused to take their seats and do the work to earn it.
“I don’t think that is ever acceptable but it is particularly unacceptable when people in our constituencies are struggling to feed their families, struggling to heat their homes, worried for their futures and it puts all of us as politicians in a place which is embarrassing once again.
“We want to serve the public but are prevented from doing so.”
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said ‘we need decisive action taken by the Government’ on the Protocol (Image: EXPRESS)
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson insisted he is sending a “clear message” to the EU and the UK Government about resolving issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol.
After blocking the formation of a new Government, he said: “As I have made clear this morning we have taken the decision not at this stage to support the election of a speaker.
“I believe that we need to send a very clear message to the European Union and to our Government that we are serious about getting this protocol sorted out.
“Because of the harm it is doing, undermining political stability, damaging the agreements that have formed the basis of political progress made in Northern Ireland, to our economy, contributing to the cost-of-living crisis, this matter needs to be dealt with.
“While others sit on their hands we are not prepared to do that.
“We need decisive action taken by the Government.”
Liz Truss said the UK will have ‘no choice but to act’ if there is no ‘flexibility’ on the Protocol (Image: EXPRESS)
It comes after Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK will have “no choice but to act” if the EU does not show enough “flexibility” over checks on goods going from Britain to Northern Ireland.
She warned Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission for Interinstitutional Relations, in a phone call the Protocol was “the greatest obstacle” to forming a new Northern Ireland executive following last week’s elections.
In response, Mr Šefčovič told her there was “no room to expand the negotiating mandate or introduce new proposals to reduce the overall level of trade friction”, according to a Foreign Office statement.
In a statement after the call, Mr Sefčovič said it remained of “serious concern that the UK Government intends to embark on the path of unilateral action”.