Northern Ireland election date confirmed for 2 March

Power-sharing executive collapse came after Martin McGuinness resigned as deputy first minister last Monday

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Monday 16 January 2017 18:40 GMT
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Northern Ireland's Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, announces 2 March election date

Northern Ireland will hold elections on 2 March to choose a new Assembly following the collapse of the Stormont power-sharing executive.

The collapse came after Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness resigned as deputy first minister last Monday, following a row between his party and the Democratic Unionist Party over a green energy scheme.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was designed to encourage businesses to use green energy source, however subsidies were found to be overly generous and ineffective, with projections estimating an overspend of £490m.

Sinn Féin had until midday to nominate a replacement for Mr McGuinness, which they refused to do, meaning the Northern Ireland Assembly is no longer able to continue to govern.

It gave Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, authority to call a snap election after 5pm.

He confirmed in a statement shortly after the deadline that elections would be held on Thursday 2nd March and that the Assembly would be dissolved from the 26th January, with its last sitting day held on 25th.

"No-one should underestimate the challenge faced to the political institutions here in Northern Ireland and what is at stake,” he said in a statement.

"While it is inevitable that debate during an election period will be intense, I would strongly encourage the political parties to conduct this election with a view to the future of Northern Ireland and re-establishing a partnership government at the earliest opportunity after that poll. This is essential for the operation of devolved government. And this means that all must remain open to dialogue.”

He also confirmed the Government’s continued commitment to the Belfast Agreement and promised a further statement in Parliament on Tuesday.

"The Government continues to stand firmly behind its commitment to the Belfast Agreement and its successors, and our responsibilities to safeguard political stability here in Northern Ireland,” he said.

"We will continue to do all that we can to find a way forward and secure the continuation of devolved government.”

More follows.

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