Government notes frustrations of powersharing impasse milestone protests

Stormont
Stormont

The Government has acknowledged the deep frustration of the public in Northern Ireland as the region reached an unwanted milestone for non-governance.

On Tuesday the region notched up 589 days since the powersharing executive collapsed - passing Belgium for the world's longest peacetime period without a properly functioning government.

While Northern Ireland will avoid an embarrassing entry in the Guinness Book of World Records - the Stormont impasse was ruled ineligible as it only relates to a devolved administration - the day will be marked by a series of public protests.

The #wedeservebetter events will be held in a series of cities and towns across the region on Tuesday evening.

The executive imploded in January 2017 amid a bitter row between the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein over a botched renewable energy scheme.

The rift widened to take in other more tradition disputes - such as the Irish language - and the parties remain at loggerheads, with no prospect of an imminent breakthrough on the horizon.

Stormont

Stormont

While there has been speculation over a new round of negotiations for the autumn, no date has publicly been announced.

Ahead of the demonstrations, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Karen Bradley said: "The Secretary of State is acutely aware of the deep frustration and difficulties faced by the people of Northern Ireland and the urgent need to resolve the current impasse.

"She shares the firm view that the current situation cannot be allowed to continue and is working on options to ensure the good governance of Northern Ireland.

"The UK Government's priority is to secure a basis for political talks and re-establish a locally elected, democratically accountable devolved government at the earliest opportunity.

"In the absence of an Executive, the Secretary of State continues to take the necessary decisions to protect the interests of Northern Ireland and ensure stable public finances, demonstrated by the recent Budget Act."

The crisis was triggered on January 9 2017 when the late Sinn Fein deputy first minister Martin McGuinness quit. The executive collapsed one week later - on January 16 - when the deadline for Sinn Fein to nominate a new minister expired. Tuesday marked 589 days since the latter date.

Belgium was without a properly functioning government for 589 days when Prime Minister Yves Leterme quit in April 2010, and it went 541 days without any government at all when a new administration was not formed after a subsequent election in June 2010

Guinness uses the 541-day timeframe for measuring the world record.

In Northern Ireland, the administration limped on without a first or deputy first minister until March 2 2017 - when a snap Assembly election was held.

Using the measure of the time without no government at all, Northern Ireland passed 541 days last Friday, on August 24.