Jeffrey Donaldson under pressure to restore executive after bruising election sees Sinn Féin take Stormont top spot
SIR JEFFREY Donaldson is today expected to come under growing pressure to restore the executive and serve alongside Stormont's first ever nationalist first minister.
In the aftermath of a historic election that saw Sinn Féin emerge as the assembly's largest party and Alliance more than double its number of MLAs, a bruised DUP is facing calls to "respect the outcome" of Thursday's poll.
The party suffered its worst electoral performance for more than 20 years, its vote share dropping by nearly seven percentage points.
The DUP emerged with 25 seats, three less than in 2017, relinquishing its position as Stormont's number one party.
As the US administration urged the immediate restoration of the executive.
The Taoiseach urged the DUP to form a power-sharing Executive.
“All the parties, bar the Traditional Unionist Voice, focused on the bread-and-butter issues,” Micheál Martin said this morning.
“My sense is that the mandate they got was to take their Assembly seats.”
“This was an election fought on current topical issues and, therefore, I think parties could lose out if they do not respond to what people said to them on the doorsteps,” Mr Martin told RTE radio.
Alliance leader Naomi Long called on the DUP "to reflect very carefully on their approach to re-entering government".
"They had influence over Brexit and overplayed their hand which has brought us a hard Brexit and the protocol – they'd do well not to make the same mistakes when gambling with the future of devolution," she told The Irish News last night.
"The electorate have spoken and if the democratic in Democratic Unionist Party is to mean anything at all, they need to respect the outcome and get back to work."
A statement from the US State Department said the political and economic progress enjoyed since the Good Friday Agreement was "testament to the benefits of a locally accountable power-sharing government".
"Critical and immediate challenges concerning the economy, health, and education are best addressed through the collective efforts of a devolved government chosen by, and accountable to, its [Northern Ireland's] people," the statement said.
However, as well as stalling on the restoration of the executive Sir Jeffrey has yet to commit to taking his seat in the assembly.
The Lagan Valley MP said DUP party officers would decide whether he should resign his Westminster seat by the end of this week, triggering what could be a difficult by-election given recent Alliance successes in the constituency.
Meanwhile, the SDLP is today expected to begin the search for a new infrastructure minister after deputy leader Nichola Mallon failed to retain her seat in North Belfast.
We are ready to engage with Northern Ireland parties & UKG in London, Belfast & Brussels to solve protocol issues. Constructive commitment from @EUdelegationUK Ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida @BBCr4today pic.twitter.com/jRquIwAlpS— Julian Smith MP (@JulianSmithUK) May 9, 2022
Just arriving at Stormont. The voters have spoken. The democratic outcome must be respected. No party can hold back progress. It’s now time to get to work, to put money in workers and families pockets to deal with the cost of living crisis; to start to fix our health service.— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) May 9, 2022