Elections to a new Northern Ireland assembly will take place on 2 March, James Brokenshire has announced. The Northern Ireland secretary was forced to call the poll after 5pm on Monday when it became clear there would be no 11th-hour deal to bring the Democratic Unionist party and Sinn Féin together to save power sharing in the region. Brokenshire was obliged by law to declare an election date after the deadline this evening, drawning a curtain over nearly a decade of cross-community coalitions between unionists and nationalists. The present assembly will sit until 26 January, when it will be dissolved. The new election takes place just 10 months after the previous one, which resulted in a joint Sinn Féin-Democratic Unionist party government. The devolved administration fell after a row over a bungled green energy scheme and the Democratic Unionist first minister’s refusal to temporarily stand down from her post.
Sinn Féin earlier on Monday refused to nominate a new deputy first minister in the Stormont parliament, thus triggering an election. The Democratic Unionists had once again put forward Arlene Foster as first minister.
But under the complex rules of power sharing in the province, a government could not survive if the main political representatives of one section of the community refused to participate in the administration.
Announcing the election, the Northern Ireland secretary said: “I am now obliged under relevant legislation to propose a date for the next Northern Ireland assembly election. The election seeks to have the views of the future of Northern Ireland and bring people back together again and assures those lines of communications remain open.”