DUP leader Peter Robinson has announced he is to resign as First Minister after his party’s motion at the Business Committee failed to get the support of the SDLP and the UUP.
Party colleague and Finance Minister for Finance Arlene Foster is to take over as temporary First Minister.
She is to take over the role of First Minister for a period of six to eight weeks.
All other DUP Ministers – Mervyn Storey, Simon Hamilton and Jonathan Bell – are to resign with immediate effect.
It could mean the end of Peter Robinson as first minister
The news came as the Assembly came close to collapse over claims of continued links between Sinn Féin and the IRA.
The SDLP opposed the adjournment of the Assembly, a decision that brings the political institutions closer to collapse or suspension.
The party said it would not support the DUP ultimatum.
SDLP leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell said: “Unlike others in the political system who have rushed to judgement we have been steady and spoken to everyone interested in the current crisis, including the Irish Government this morning. Our decision is to oppose the adjournment because it is not a solution.”
The DUP with the support of the British and Irish governments is pushing the idea of adjournment of Assembly business because the alternative – unless the British government were to suspend Stormont – is the collapse of the power-sharing institutions.
Adjournment would buy four to six weeks of new Stormont House talks during which there is at least some chance of the current crisis being resolved. It might all unravel in any case but as far as Dublin and London are concerned while the parties are talking there is some chance of a resolution.
Earlier, Mr McDonnell had expressed concern that an adjournment would mean “suspension by degrees”.
Speaking after a meeting with the Taoiseach in Dublin – and before the SDLP made its decision – he described the DUP’s response to the latest Northern crisis as “totally disproportionate and excessive”.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has now called for an election, a view not shared by other parties.