The speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly has written to MLAs about the implications of not meeting next month's deadline for the restoration of the Stormont Executive.
Alex Maskey said that on 28 October, caretaker ministers currently in position would cease to hold office.
The window to appoint a First and Deputy First minister would also close.
Mr Maskey said under the legislation it would then fall to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to call a fresh election within 12 weeks.
He said if MLAs indicated that they were prepared to elect a new Speaker to replace him, he would recall the assembly to facilitate that.
Mr Maskey had intended to step down as an MLA but agreed to stay on until a replacement speaker was appointed.
The DUP has refused to facilitate the election of a new speaker as part of its opposition to the Northern Ireland protocol.
Their votes are necessary because the speaker must be elected on a cross-community basis.
"It is not for me to take a position on the political issues behind our current situation but no-one will be surprised that the Speaker would want to see this assembly functioning fully.
"I would therefore urge that the remaining time available is used to facilitate the resumption of normal assembly business and the formation of an executive," Mr Maskey wrote.