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Executive Formation: Extension Period

Volume 666: debated on Monday 21 October 2019

The period for Executive formation under the terms of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 is due to expire at the end of today, Monday 21 October.

I take extremely seriously my obligations towards the good governance of Northern Ireland in the absence of locally-elected Executive Ministers. The expiration of this legal period without an Executive in place, and in the absence of other decision-making legislation, would leave Northern Ireland in an unacceptable position.

For that reason I am today laying before Parliament a statutory instrument to extend the period for Executive formation to 13 January 2020, the only such extension permitted by the current legislation. That has the effect, among other things, of ensuring that Northern Ireland Departments can continue to make decisions in accordance with the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 in the absence of Executive Ministers. The legal obligation on me to call an Assembly election would move too, to fall on that date. This does not prevent me from calling an Assembly election at any time.

I am disappointed that the political parties have been unable to reach an agreement to get Stormont back up and running before this legal deadline. But extending this legal deadline has no bearing on my continuing efforts to restore the Executive, which will continue in the days and weeks ahead.