HomeBusinessThe Stormont Assembly will be dissolved amid the power-sharing impasse

The Stormont Assembly will be dissolved amid the power-sharing impasse



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The Stormont Assembly will be called later for another seemingly doomed bid to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland.

Rival parties are trying to increase pressure on the DUP to end its handover boycott but, unless the party unexpectedly changes its position, the move will not succeed.

A petition presented by Sinn Féin has secured the signatures of the 30 legislators needed to withdraw the crisis-hit institutions, which will take place at 12pm.

Several previous attempts to reshuffle the Assembly have already failed because the DUP did not support the election of a Speaker at the start of the session.

Without the Speaker, the Legislative Assembly can no longer function.

The DUP is going to block the Speaker election again on Wednesday.

The region’s biggest unionist party has refused to engage with divided institutions in Belfast in the run-up to May’s assembly elections, meaning it has been unable to form a ministerial executive.

The boycott is part of the DUP’s campaign to oppose the Northern Ireland Protocol to Brexit and the party has said it will not return to power sharing until decisive action is taken to remove the protocol’s economic barriers to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Negotiations between the UK government and the EU continue to resolve differences over the protocol.

On Tuesday evening, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris reiterated his intention to cut MLA pay by 27.5%, but did not specify exactly when the cut would take effect.

“This pay cut is a necessary step at a time when people in Northern Ireland are facing significant cost of living challenges,” he said.

The latest withdrawal petition is centered around the cost-of-living crisis, with Sinn Féin’s motion calling for a debate on why people in Northern Ireland have not received energy support payments.

A lack of clarity about when Treasury-funded payments will be made has become a focus of intense political disputes amid the ongoing power-sharing vacuum.

Households in the region will receive an automatic £400 payment to help with energy costs this winter as part of a UK-wide scheme.

In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said all households in Northern Ireland would receive an extra £200 payment, in recognition of the region’s reliance on home heating oil.

While consumers in the rest of the UK have already started receiving support payments, no decision has been made on how and when Northern Ireland will do so.

Business Minister Graham Stewart told the Commons last week that he could not see the payment of the Energy Bill Support Scheme issued in Northern Ireland before Christmas but expected to “stand it up” in January.

He also said it should be a ministerial executive in Northern Ireland dealing with payments.

Sinn Féin has repeatedly said that if the Stormont institutions were in place, the payments would already have been made.

But the DUP opposed this and blamed the Westminster government for withholding payments.

Sinn Féin’s recall petition said: “This Assembly is deeply concerned that struggling families and households have not received the £600 payment that so many are desperately relying on; The DUP calls for an end to this assembly boycott; and supports the appointment of an executive to provide emergency assistance for those struggling with cost-of-living crises during the winter months.”

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