Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin says there's no Stormont stand-off holding up office allocation for new MLAs

Office space at Stormont is allocated using the d'Hondt system. Picture by Paul Faith/PA
Office space at Stormont is allocated using the d'Hondt system. Picture by Paul Faith/PA

SINN Féin has insisted there is no stand-off with the DUP preventing the allocation of Stormont offices to new MLAs.

The assembly authorities have so far been unable to agree where to house freshly-elected members in Parliament Buildings, meaning Alliance's 11 new MLAs are currently without an office.

Alliance is also understood to be unhappy with the size of its current meeting room, having more than doubled the size of party's assembly team.

The Irish News reported last Thursday how the controversy dubbed 'roomgate' has become the latest Stormont battleground.

Tensions between the parties are said to be heightened against the backdrop of the DUP's continued refusal to support the restoration of the executive and assembly due to its concerns around the Northern Ireland protocol.

The assembly will be recalled today in an effort to elect a speaker after Sinn Féin tabled a petition, however, there is little expectation of a breakthrough.

Office space at Stormont is allocated using the d'Hondt system, reflecting the number of representatives each party has.

However, more than three-and-a-half weeks on from the May 5 election, assembly staff are unable to provide rooms for new MLAs because the Assembly Commission, a body with representatives from each of the five main parties, has been unable to agree on a revised allocation of offices.

One Stormont source told The Irish News: "The pecking order has changed and that means quite a lot of changes but some people are resisting the changes.

"It has resulted in a complete stalemate, because nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."

The Stormont source claimed a "stand-off" between the assembly's two biggest parties had led to the delay but Sinn Féin has refuted this.

A Sinn Féin spokesperson told The Irish News : "The Alliance Party should have access to all rooms and facilities in line with their mandate, as should all parties.

“There is no stand-off.”

The DUP declined to comment.

The assembly authorities have refused to provide any detail on the nature of the dispute.

In a brief statement, an assembly spokesperson said: "A revised accommodation layout, to reflect the relative party strengths in the new mandate, is currently being agreed with the political parties for offices for members and parties."