Sinn Fein and DUP clash over cost of living crisis

The ongoing absence of a Stormont executive is “totally unacceptable” given the latest rises in energy prices in Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill has said.

Ms O’Neill restated her appeal to the DUP to “get around the table and start to support people”.

But the DUP’s Gavin Robinson hit back at the criticism, saying his party is doing what it can to help people.

Speaking to reporters in Belfast, Ms O’Neill said: “People are struggling, they’re struggling to heat their homes, it’s going to get even more difficult into the winter months, they’re struggling in terms of being able to afford to put food on their table for their children.

DUP MP Gavin Robinson

“That’s totally unacceptable that we do not have an executive in order to be able to help people to actually put money into their pockets. We have money to spend, we want to give it to the public but the DUP, unfortunately, are blocking the formation of an executive.”

Mr Robinson criticised Sinn Fein’s continued abstentionist stance when it comes to the UK Parliament.

The East Belfast MP told reporters: “I think people can see through the blame that she’s laying at our door.

“That doesn’t give any comfort to folks that are receiving an increase again today, or, depending on who their provider is, a significant increase between 20 and up to 46%. It is big.

“Three weeks ago, I stood outside Westminster with one of her colleagues, a Sinn Fein member of parliament who refuses to take his seat. That day, we supported a Labour motion that was providing a windfall tax from energy companies, so that money was coming off energy bills. We were in, we were voting on those issues and that motion was ultimately successful, but Sinn Fein stayed outside the room.”