Assembly election in Northern Ireland will not be held in December, secretary of state says

The Stormont parliament buildings in Northern Ireland

An Assembly election will not be held in Northern Ireland in December, secretary of state Chris Heaton-Harris has said.

The cabinet minister said he had listened to “sincere concerns” across the region about the impact and cost of a fresh poll at this time.

He will outline his next steps in Parliament.

Mr Heaton Harris is obliged to call an election within 12 weeks of 28 October when the deadline for the Northern Ireland parties to form a fresh power-sharing executive ran out.

A DUP boycott of the devolved institutions, in protest at Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol, has prevented an administration being formed in the wake of the election in May.

In a statement, Mr Heaton Harris said: “At midnight on 28 October, I came under a duty to call an Assembly election.

“Since then, my engagement with the political parties has continued.

“I have had valuable conversations with people across Northern Ireland, including business and community representatives.

“I have listened to their sincere concerns about the impact and cost of an election at this time.”

He added: “I can now confirm that no Assembly election will take place in December, or ahead of the festive season.

“Current legislation requires me to name a date for an election to take place within 12 weeks of 28 October and next week, I will make a statement in parliament to lay out my next steps.

“My objective, what the people of Northern Ireland deserve, is the restoration of a strong devolved government.

“My duty is to create the right environment for the parties in Northern Ireland to work together to restore the devolved institutions and deliver on crucial issues impacting Northern Ireland’s people.

“I do not take this duty lightly, nor do I overlook the very real concerns people have around their cost of living.”

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