The UK government will not call fresh elections in Northern Ireland before the end of the year and will announce how it intends to proceed beyond that next week, the Northern Ireland secretary has said.

The deadline passed last week for forming a power-sharing government after elections in May, and Britain’s minister for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, said at the time that he was legally obliged to call new elections within 12 weeks.

After Northern Ireland’s main political parties said they did not expect a new vote to break the stalemate, Heaton-Harris said he had listened to the “sincere concerns” across the region about the impact and cost of an election at this time.

In a statement on Friday morning, Heaton-Harris said he had listened to concerns about the impact and cost of an election at this time.

“I can now confirm that no assembly election will take place in December, or ahead of the festive season.

“Current legislation requires me to name a date for an election to take place within 12 weeks of 28 October, and next week I will make a statement in parliament to lay out my next steps.”

He added: “My objective, what the people of Northern Ireland deserve, is the restoration of a strong, devolved government. My duty is to create the right environment for the parties in Northern Ireland to work together to restore the devolved institutions and deliver on crucial issues impacting Northern Ireland’s people.

“I do not take this duty lightly, nor do I overlook the very real concerns people have around their cost of living.”

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