Northern Ireland’s Stormont Assembly failed to elect a new speaker after the DUP said it would not support the process.
This means that the decentralized administration is unable to function after last week’s elections, which saw Sinn Fein becomes the biggest party for the first time.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the move was part of a protest against the Northern Ireland protocol.
Read more: What is the Northern Ireland Protocol and why is it important?
He said he was sending a “clear message” to the EU and UK governments on resolving issues with the post-Brexit trade deal.
Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill accused him of “denying democracy” and said his action “is not tolerable, is not acceptable, is not good enough”.
She said the DUP had “punished the electorate” and that “the public deserved better”.
Alliance party leader Naomi Long said she was “appalled” by the behavior of the DUP.
“Despite the fact that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland voted for parties that wanted to return to government, that wanted to see the Assembly work, and despite the fact that even those who voted for the DUP did not give them no mandate to block a return to the Assembly, we found ourselves in this situation today,” she said.
“But while it is a sad day for the people of Northern Ireland, it is a shameful day for the DUP.”
DUP: “We need decisive action”
The DUP also said it would refuse to appoint the post of deputy prime minister, which would block the formation of a new executive.
The newly elected First Minister of Northern Ireland cannot take on this role without the DUP appointing a Deputy First Minister.
Both roles are equal and one cannot be in office without the other – according to the rules of decentralized administration of power sharing.
Follow the daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
The 90 MPs elected had gathered in the Stormont Chamber for the first time since the election, where two candidates were nominated for Speaker – Mike Nesbitt of the UUP and Patsy McGlone of the SDLP.
None of them received the necessary support.
Sir Jeffrey said it was time for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to explain what he intended to do to advance negotiations with the EU.
Who is Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Fein?
What is power sharing and why is it used in Northern Ireland?
“I think we need to send a very clear message to the European Union and to our government that we are serious about resolving this protocol – because of the harm it is causing, undermining political stability, damaging the agreements that have formed the basis of political progress in Northern Ireland, for our economy, contributing to the cost of living crisis – this issue needs to be addressed,” he said.
“While others sit idly by, we are not ready to do this. We need decisive action from the government.”
Unionists like the DUP oppose the protocol, arguing that the Irish Sea border threatens Northern Ireland’s place in the UK.
The two main nationalist parties, Sinn Fein and the SDLP, support it because it prevents a hard border on the island of Ireland.
You Can Read Also