During a House of Lords debate on the industrial action in Northern Ireland, Baroness Arlene Foster of Aghadrumsee said her former party, the DUP "will not be bullied into making a decision that they believe is the wrong one".

The debate, which took place the day before the strike action last Thursday, centred around what plans the Conservative Government had made to release funding for public sector pay awards.

Speaking on Wednesday, January 17. Baroness Foster said: "My Lords, it is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

"This is not the first time that His Majesty’s Government have used this sort of tactic to try to push people who have a mandate in Northern Ireland to do something that it would go against their mandate to do. I am sure that my former colleagues in the DUP will not be bullied into making a decision that they believe is the wrong one."

In response to a question by Lord Swire to look at the possibility of reducing MLAs' salaries if they are not sitting in the Assembly, Baroness Foster responded: "I am sorry to say that I disagree with what my friend, the noble Lord, Lord Swire, had to say on this matter as well.

Bullying and blackmail do not work in Northern Ireland, and it is insanity to think they will. I therefore say to the Minister, who I know has Northern Ireland’s place very close to his heart, to please press on the Secretary of State that we need a different way forward for our public sector workers."

In response the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Lord Caine said: "I repeat that bullying and blackmail are not the approach of His Majesty’s Government."

Lord Morrow also spoke during the debate, saying public sector workers should receive their entitlement "bearing in mind that the money has already been made available".

He added that Northern Ireland has been funded below the UK Government's definition of need since 2022 which is not acceptable.

Lord Morrow also commended the approach of the trade unions.

He said: "They have not fallen into the trap that some of my colleagues in this House have today, in that they blame a political party for it. That is not what they are saying," before concluding: "On this threat of reducing the MLAs’ money, I never heard that said once in the three years that Sinn Féin held everybody to ransom in Northern Ireland."

During the debate, Lord Caine also pointed out that the Tory Government has offered a £ 3.3 billion package to an incoming Stormont Executive with £ 580 million earmarked to relieve public sector pressures.

With the DUP not bowing to pressure and returning to government in Northern Ireland, another deadline to resurrect powersharing passed by on Thursday, January 18 – the same day as the unprecedented strike action.

In response, Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris, brought forward legislation in Westminster to extend the deadline to February 8.

The move suggests the Government remains hopeful that a settlement can be reached within the next two weeks to enable powersharing to return to Northern Ireland.

However, party insiders maintain that the moment for the DUP to pass final judgment on the Government’s offer is approaching