Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill has warned there is "no credible alternative" to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

It comes as the region's Agriculture Minister Gordon Lyons made the shock decision to halt progress on customs infrastructure tonight (February 26) telling the BBC the protocol had become "problematic".

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon announced she would call for an emergency Executive meeting. Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has also backed the call.

However, at least three members must make the same call before an emergency meeting will be held.

In a statement published online, O'Neill said: “The DUP championed Brexit and must own the consequences. The protocol is a direct consequence of Brexit.

“Tonight’s solo run by DUP Minister for Agriculture Gordon Lyons instructing his officials to halt work on further infrastructure, and charging at the ports is clearly a stunt.

"Businesses, traders, retailers, consumers and workers need certainty and want to see the protocol implemented to give them that certainty.

"There is no credible alternative to the Protocol.

"Executive Ministers have a legal duty and a responsibility to ensure the implementation of the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement and Protocol.

It is clear that Gordon Lyons acting unilaterally cannot stop work continuing at the ports, since it’s for the whole Executive to decide such matters.

“The Executive priority must remain on our response to the Covid pandemic and saving lives and protecting public health, rather than political distractions from the DUP."

The Deputy First Minister added: "Previously when the former DAERA Minister took a similar stance, his permanent secretary took forward the Executive's responsibilities.

"The protocol is a consequence of Brexit. The DUP championed Brexit and must own the consequences. Business and society need certainty, not stunts."