SECRETARY of State James Brokenshire is set to call Assembly elections later today once Sinn Féin fails to nominate a replacement to deputy first minister Martin McGuinness.
Mr McGuinness quit last Monday when DUP leeder Arlene Foster refused to step aside as First Minister over the bungled RHI scandal.
As the pair hold a joint office, the resignation automatically put the DUP leader out of her job.
Elections must be called if the positions are vacant for seven days.
The DUP is expected to re-nominate Mrs Foster as first minister shortly after midday.
But Sinn Féin is adamant it will not put forward a replacement for Mr McGuinness, meaning neither first nor deputy first minister can resume their job at Stormont Castle.
Because of its entrench position, there is not expected to be a last minute breakthrough with Sinn Fein.
That means by 5 pm this evening, the Secretary of state must name a date for a fresh election.
It is expected an election will be held in either late February or early March.
Later today, MLAs will debated Economy Minster Simon Hamilton’s proposal to cut the £500 million cost of subsidies paid to claimants under the RHI scheme.
Before that session, MLAs on the economy committee will hold an emergency meeting to question Mr Hamilton and his most senior civil servant, Andrew McCormick, about the plan.