There is no political crisis at Stormont, a leading member of the DUP has insisted.
Jeffrey Donaldson has responded to republican accusations that unionism is lacking in leadership by urging Sinn Fein not to manufacture a crisis where none exists.
His comments come as the relationship between the DUP and Sinn Fein continues to deteriorate over issues such as the DUP's abandonment of support for the Peace and Conflict Resolution Centre at the Maze
The parties have been accusing each other of weakness after MLA Gerry Kelly signalled a crisis in power-sharing, and Raymond McCartney accused unionism of being led by the loudest voice.
There are fears the soured atmosphere could also impede other issues at the Executive which meets this Thursday.
In an article for today's Belfast Telegraph, Mr Donaldson argued that unionism has recognised the importance of working through cross-community government.
"That, of course poses difficulties for republicanism which has neither delivered its constitutional aim nor made any real progress towards it. Attempts to portray Northern Ireland as the 'failed state' they used to talk of ring more hollow also when they are a key part of its administration, under the banner of the United Kingdom," the DUP MP said.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of State has said she believes dealing with the flags and parading controversies will be easier to resolve than the past.
Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland yesterday, ahead of the Conservative Party conference, Theresa Villiers described the past as "a different order of difficulty".
"I think the issues around flags and parading are more susceptible to building a consensus than is the case with the past," she said.
"Unionism has resolved itself of the need to make Northern Ireland work through cross-community government. Opinion polls have shown that the majority of people, regardless of religious background, have resolved themselves of our constitutional position and want to see us making Northern Ireland work."
Jeffrey Donaldson MP