The refusal of Sinn Fein to designate a deputy would be “hugely explosive,” according to Edwin Poots.
The DUP leader has stated that Sinn Fein refusing to name a deputy first minister next week would be a “hugely explosive thing to do.”
Next week, Edwin Poots is expected to name Paul Givan as Northern Ireland’s next first minister.
Because the combined office can only function if both seats are occupied, when departing First Minister Arlene Foster publicly resigns, deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill is automatically dismissed from her position.
Within seven days, both parties must renominate their respective first and deputy first ministers.
If one of the parties refuses to renominate, or if neither nominee receives enough Assembly support, a functioning Executive will be unable to create, and a snap election will be necessary.
While Sinn Fein has not stated it publicly, there is speculation that the party is seeking specific promises from Mr Poots on matters such as the Irish language as a condition of participating in the nomination process.
Mr Poots told reporters in Belfast on Wednesday that he had a nice discussion with Sinn Fein president Mary-Lou McDonald.
“The meeting dynamics were good; we had a wide-ranging conversation over a number of themes; it was businesslike, and I was quite satisfied with the meeting,” he stated.
Mr Poots stated that he sees no reason why the ministerial nominations should not go smoothly.
“I have officially committed myself to New Decade New Approach and its implementation, including the cultural dimensions of New Decade New Approach,” he stated.
“I have committed to doing it; obviously, we have had a scenario that has slowed a lot of progress in this mandate on the New Decade New Approach, so let us get it out and look at everything and see how we can deliver it all as soon as possible.”
Mr Poots stated that the most significant issue for lawmakers today is the health service waiting lists, and that refusing to nominate ministers would be “damaging.” (This is a brief piece.)