Northern Ireland news

Absence of Stormont executive ‘totally unacceptable' amid price hikes – Michelle O'Neill

Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O'Neill speaking to the media today after laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in Donegall Square West in Belfast, marking the anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire 
David Young and Aine Fox, PA

The ongoing absence of a Stormont executive is “totally unacceptable” given the latest rises in energy prices in Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill has said.

The Sinn Féin vice president was commenting as the most recent wave of price hikes announced by several local energy providers came into effect today.

Powersharing at Stormont is on ice after the DUP refused to re-establish a devolved executive following May’s Assembly election in protest at the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has created economic barriers on trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.

Ms O’Neill restated her appeal to the DUP to “get around the table and start to support people”.

Speaking to reporters in Belfast, she said: “People are struggling, they’re struggling to heat their homes, it’s going to get even more difficult into the winter months, they’re struggling in terms of being able to afford to put food on their table for their children.

“That’s totally unacceptable that we do not have an executive in order to be able to help people to actually put money into their pockets. We have money to spend, we want to give it to the public but the DUP, unfortunately, are blocking the formation of an executive.

“But I encourage them again today on the back of these latest hikes to actually join the rest of us and actually get around the table and start to support people.”

She said the British government has not been doing enough to support people through the cost-of-living crisis, as she called on the Tories to tax “the big companies”.

She said: “There are things that are within the gift of the British government that we do not have the powers to do and they should be taxing the big companies, they should be making sure that there’s a windfall tax that actually allows us to put that money directly to the public to help them through the cost-of-living crisis.

“What the British government have done to date is not good enough. It does not cut the mustard, it does not support people enough.

“So, what we need to see is an executive formed and the British government need to tax the big companies and put the money into people’s pockets.”

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Northern Ireland news