Northern Ireland’s DUP has been accused of pursuing a ‘scorched earth’ strategy, after it blocked election of a new speaker at the Stormont assembly.
The assembly has failed to elect a speaker, plunging the next few months into uncertainty.
The Democratic Unionist Party blocked proposed appointments from the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the SDLP, meaning the regional parliament cannot conduct any business.
The DUP say they will not change their stance until there has been reform of the Northern Ireland Protocol as a result of Brexit.
Andrew Muir is an MLA for the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland.
He told The Hard Shoulder the DUP seems to want to do as much damage as possible.
“It does seem that the DUP are going for a scorched earth strategy here really in Northern Ireland – collapsing all the forms of devolution for their own party political interests.
“These are the people who fought for, and perused, the hardest of Brexits – and now they’re bemoaning the consequences of that.
“They need to own the consequences of that, and they need to pull back from this.
“The negotiations between the EU and the UK government are continuing… but punishing the people of Northern Ireland it really is absolutely shameful”.
Mr Muir says the DUP’s behaviour has put the assembly into stalemate,
“This is a very sad day for Northern Ireland, that an assembly cannot proceed with its business and elect a speaker, but it’s a shameful day for the DUP.
“Over 70% of MLAs voted to elect a speaker and allow us to proceed with our business, but the DUP vetoed that.
“And not only are they actually expanding upon their contentment with actually collapsing the executive, now they’re collapsing the assembly.
“And that is absolutely disgraceful.
“And to hear some DUP MLAs bemoaning the cost and access to food from Marks & Spencers, when people in Northern Ireland are relying upon foodbanks, I think is contemptible”.
‘Abuse of power’
The Good Friday Agreement requires a majority of unionists and nationalists to support election of an assembly speaker.
And he says the DUP is abusing that clause with its tactics.
“The DUP abused that power, and blocked the election of a speaker.
“So even through over 70% of MLAs wanted to see a speaker elected, that didn’t happen.
“So the assembly cannot proceed with its business, we cannot hold ministers to account.
“The people overwhelmingly came out in the recent election and said that they wanted the executive and the assembly restored”.
‘Absolutely disgraceful’ – DUP ‘going for scorched earth strategy’ over Protocol
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Main image: The Stormont parliament building in Belfast, Northern Ireland in August 2021. Picture by: Malcolm Walker / Alamy Stock Photo