Assembly recall postponed following Lord Trimble’s death

A planned recall of the Stormont Assembly will not proceed on Tuesday following the death of Lord Trimble.

Outgoing speaker Alex Maskey said party whips were in agreement that continuing with the sitting would be “inappropriate”.

The plenary session would have expected to hear robust debate on the ongoing powersharing impasse at Stormont.

The DUP is currently blocking the reconstitution of the Assembly and Executive following May’s election in protest at Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.

The recall session would have witnessed another failed bid to elect a new speaker, as such a move is impossible in the face of the ongoing DUP veto.

Without a speaker, no further Assembly business can be done, including the nomination of new first and deputy first ministers.

While the recalled sitting was set to achieve little in practical terms, it was going to provide a forum for the parties to exchange verbal blows on the Stormont deadlock.

Mr Maskey said the parties had decided it was not appropriate to hold such a sitting following Lord Trimble’s death.

“I was very sorry to hear of the death of Lord Trimble,” he said.

“David and I worked together through many challenging times, the high point being the Good Friday Agreement.  We were colleagues in the first Assembly in 1998 in what was a very different Assembly Chamber from today.

“He undoubtedly took difficult decisions in difficult circumstances throughout this period and played a huge part in the peace process.  However, I am particularly mindful of his wife Daphne and his family who are mourning the loss of a husband and father.

“I have engaged with party whips this evening and parties are all agreed that it would be inappropriate to hold the scheduled recall of the Assembly tomorrow.

“I intend to defer tomorrow’s sitting of the Assembly to a later date.  I will also be making provision for Assembly Members to formally offer their condolences and pay tribute to Lord Trimble as a former First Minister; I will announce further details when arrangements have been confirmed.”