The Northern Ireland secretary has vowed to introduce “pragmatic” legislation in his latest bid to address the region’s political deadlock.
After the latest deadline to restore Stormont expired on Thursday, 18 December, Chris Heaton-Harris declared his intention to introduce new legislation in a statement.
He said his new approach would be “pragmatic, appropriate and limited”.
Heaton-Harris had been under an obligation to call a fresh election if the institutions were not restored by 18 January.
The Northern Ireland secretary insisted his legislation will also “support Northern Ireland departments to manage the immediate and evident challenges they face in stabilising public services and finances”.
The Stormont Assembly has been collapsed for almost two years with the Democratic Unionist Party refusing to participate until unionist concerns over post-Brexit trading arrangements are addressed
Presently, senior civil servants are running Stormont departments with limited powers.
The DUP, led by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, maintained its position during a final failed attempt to recall the Assembly following a motion by nationalist party Sinn Fein on Wednesday.
Minutes after midnight, Heaton-Harris issued a statement signalling that he intends to introduce new legislation.
After more than 150,000 public sector workers walked-out over ongoing pay disputes on Thursday, Heaton-Harris said events in Northern Ireland this week “have shown the urgent action which is required to address a whole range of issues facing Northern Ireland”.
He continued: “I remain of the belief that a sitting Northern Ireland Executive is best placed to act quickly and effectively to resolve those issues.
“In the absence of a sitting Northern Ireland Executive I will update Parliament on the next steps.
“I intend to introduce new legislation which will take a pragmatic, appropriate and limited approach to addressing the Executive Formation period and support Northern Ireland departments to manage the immediate and evident challenges they face in stabilising public services and finances.”
The government has offered a financial package worth more than £3 billion — including money to deliver public sector pay awards — contingent on the restoration of Stormont.
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