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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Ben Glaze

Northern Ireland to hold new elections as last-ditch attempt at deal breaks down

Northern Ireland was heading for new elections tonight as political crisis gripped the province.

The Democratic Unionist Party refused to nominate ministers to the Stormont Executive - scuppering attempts to restore power-sharing.

A six-month window to form an administration is due to expire at a minute past midnight tonight.

A ballot is due to be held on December 15.

Problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol, which prevents a hard border on the province’s 310-mile frontier with the Republic - the UK's only land boundary with the EU - have crippled politics in the province.

Westminster and Brussels are hopeful of striking a deal to ease trade across the Irish Sea, which critics say has been hampered by the Protocol.

Attempts to achieve power-sharing at the Stormont Estate have ended in failure (PA)

But defiant DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson claimed today: “We were given a clear mandate in the Assembly elections, and we would not nominate ministers to an Executive until decisive action is taken on the Protocol to remove the barriers to trade within our own country and to restore our place within the United Kingdom internal market.

“That remains our position and so today we will not be supporting the nomination of ministers to the executive."

The UK Government was due to trigger fresh elections as the deadline was expected to pass without agreement.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris warned: “Since I have become Secretary of State, I have consistently been clear that if the Executive is not formed by October 28, I will call an election.

“Time is running out, and people in Northern Ireland deserve locally elected decision-makers and an executive who can respond to the issues facing people, families and communities across Northern Ireland during this challenging time.

“We are clear that people deserve an accountable devolved government.”

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