The DUP has been defeated in a bid for a four-week adjournment of the Assembly to allow for talks – and has failed to table a motion attempting to exclude Sinn Fein, as it had planned to do.
At the Assembly’s business committee yesterday, the DUP was outvoted on its attempt to adjourn the Assembly.
A DUP spokesman said: “We have sought to extend the Assembly recess, to not return until October. That was not successful.”
Almost a fortnight ago, Peter Robinson set out that an exclusion motion to put Sinn Fein out of government would be a key plank of the party’s strategy, saying: “We will have discussions with other parties about tabling the necessary exclusion motion in the Assembly...”
However, the suggestion of an exclusion motion baffled some of the other parties because Sinn Fein would always have been able to veto it.
Ultimately, the DUP did not even table a motion at yesterday’s first meeting of the business committee.
After the committee, a statement from DUP chief whip Peter Weir savaged the UUP for voting against the DUP proposal.
He said: “It is increasingly obvious that behind a veil of tough talking the UUP is quite content to sit back and allow the same republicans who have caused this crisis to benefit from it, regardless of the impact.”
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt responded: “Why would they want to extend the Assembly’s summer break into October, when only days ago they were promising a debate aimed at throwing Sinn Fein out of Stormont? Maybe because that was just more bluster and another empty promise from the DUP.”