Defiant Robinson vows to stand ground in Executive
This is not the time to flee the battlefield, First Minister Peter Robinson has warned.
Writing exclusively in today's Belfast Telegraph, after the Ulster Unionist Party voted to leave the Executive, the DUP leader said Northern Ireland was facing a moment of truth that would determine its direction for years.
Mr Robinson added there was no place for any paramilitary grouping in Northern Ireland in 2015, and said it was "beyond the time that they got off our backs and let us move forward".
Turning to the recent murder of Kevin McGuigan in east Belfast, he warned that the assessment by PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton that members of the Provisional IRA were involved in the killing and that the structures of the organisation remain in existence, "cannot and will not be tolerated".
But he added that fleeing Stormont was not the answer, and Mr Robinson vowed to stand up to republicanism and fight for Northern Ireland.
"It is the time to confront violent republicanism, to stand and fight for democratic principles and to do what is right for the law-abiding citizens of Northern Ireland who want to see our country prosper and reach its full potential," the First Minister said.
Mr Robinson will meet Prime Minister David Cameron tomorrow to discuss the crisis at Stormont and how the Government can help resolve the issues.
He will also meet the other parties in Northern Ireland, as well as the Irish government. Mr Robinson stressed there could be no "acceptable level of criminality" from those who are linked to a party in government in Northern Ireland.
"Now is a time for cool heads, clear thinking and a steely resolve to ensure that democracy and the rule of law triumph over terror and murder," he said.
Responding to the decision of the UUP to leave the Executive, Mr Robinson accused the party of acting out of political expediency rather than principle.
He warned that playing party politics in such highly dangerous circumstances was reckless and added: "Doing it in a ham-fisted manner is both irresponsible and illogical.
"Mike Nesbitt's assertion that his move was not designed to bring down the Assembly exposes his real intention.
"Let's be clear, if other unionists were to follow his so-called principled move, the fall of Stormont is exactly what would happen and terror would triumph."