DUP hits out at ‘stunt politics’ as SDLP’s Stormont recall petition successful with Assembly to return on Tuesday

The Stormont Assembly is to be recalled on Tuesday after the SDLP successfully tabled a petition forcing MLAs to return to the chamber to “test the DUP’s commitment to the devolved institutions”.

he motion was signed by 30 MLAs in the Assembly and will be debating the cost of living crisis and also calling for the DUP to agree to restore the institutions at Stormont.

A previous recall in May brought by Sinn Fein failed to elect a new Speaker and thus establish the institutions, after the DUP refused to vote in its favour.

At the time the DUP said it would not agree to a new Speaker until its issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol were addressed.

Following the latest development, the DUP accused the SDLP of engaging in “stunt politics” over the recall petition.

The SDLP argue Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and his colleagues should return to the Assembly after the protocol Bill passed its third stage in the commons on Wednesday

Last week, Mr Donaldson said his party will return to the institutions at Stormont and confirmed he will serve as deputy First Minister if the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill passes through Westminster..

SDLP MLA Matthew O’Toole said: “People and families across Northern Ireland are experiencing the most severe cost of living crisis in living memory.

“At a time when working households are facing a real emergency, there is no justification for those continuing to hold our democratic institutions to ransom for their own cheap political games.

“The Protocol Bill has, unfortunately, passed its Commons stages and it is time for Jeffrey Donaldson to make his mind up. He cannot keep speaking out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to the restoration of the Assembly and the Executive.

“The SDLP is challenging his integrity as a political leader and his party’s commitment to respecting the result of May’s election.

“We will again nominate my colleague Patsy McGlone as Speaker of the Assembly next week, for the DUP’s rhetoric about being committed to the institutions at Stormont to be in any way credible, they must support the nomination of a Speaker and the restoration of the Assembly.”

The recall of the Assembly will not take place in the usual chamber however, with renovation work in the building meaning the politicians will instead gather in the senate chamber.

In a statement, DUP MLA Joanne Bunting said: “The passage of the Protocol Bill through its stages in the House of Commons is a welcome and necessary step on the path to securing the basis for durable devolution.

“However the SDLP know well that their stunt politics in attempting to make themselves relevant is not the basis for moving forward.

“Do they believe that by spending their time attacking both the Westminster Government and Unionist representatives in Parliament that this will build the necessary cross-community consensus to allow us to move forward?

“Another recall stunt was predictable, but time would be better spent recognising that without the support of both Unionists and Nationalists then progress cannot be made.

“By now it ought to be clear to all concerned that only with the problem of the Protocol finally being dealt with will we be able to have the solid basis to restore the political balance in Northern Ireland and allow us to help working families at both Stormont and Westminster.”

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