SDLP MP Claire Hanna has said that DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson’s refusal to take his Assembly seat is an insult to the Lagan Valley electorate.
Mr Donaldson has co-opted Emma Little Pengelly in his place.
Ms Hanna said it was disgraceful that voters had given their support to Mr Donaldson just a week ago and he was already being replaced.
South Belfast MP Ms Hanna said:
“Jeffrey Donaldson’s decision to resign his MLA seat just one week on from the election and before the Assembly has even sat for the first time shows contempt for the electorate in Lagan Valley. For weeks he urged people to give him their vote and elect him and now he has turned his back on those same voters.
“This move makes our electoral process look like a bad joke. Co-options have a legitimate purpose but it is not to allow individuals to hedge their bets. Jeffrey Donaldson’s behaviour throughout this process has been cavelier and dismissive of the electorate, the vast majority of whom voted for functioning government.
“This move raises serious questions around the future of the Assembly, Executive and the sustainability of the institutions. The DUP will attempt to justify this decision using the Protocol, but that will provide little comfort to people who are struggling as a result of soaring costs, or those on hospital waiting lists. Any issues around the Protocol will be resolved by the UK Government and EU, with the DUP having long since squandered any real influence they have at Westminster and Jeffrey Donaldson would have been better off keeping his promise to people in Lagan Valley and taking up his seat.”