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Peter Robinson: No further meeting of the Northern Ireland Executive unless exceptional circumstances

The DUP leader said if there is not a "satisfactory resolution" in the talks process "as a last resort Ministerial resignations will follow"

By Claire Williamson

Published 07/09/2015

First Minister Peter Robinson has said there will be no further meetings of the Northern Ireland Executive unless there are "exceptional circumstances".

The DUP leader made his comments as the Northern Ireland Assembly was due to meet today for the first time since a crisis over the IRA threatened the power-sharing institutions.

The DUP unsuccessfully sought a four-week adjournment after the PSNI  said members of the Provisional movement shot father-of-nine Kevin McGuigan dead in East Belfast.

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Chief Constable stands by his assessment that IRA members killed McGuigan  

Most recently the political crisis which plunged Stormont into turbulence saw the Ulster Unionist Party withdraw from the Northern Ireland Executive in the wake of the PSNI's assessment.

Sinn Fein have rejected the PSNI's assessment and said the IRA had "gone away".

The DUP promised it would not be business as usual when Assembly members returned from their summer break today.

<< Northern Ireland political crisis: key questions >>

Speaking at Parliament Buildings Mr Robinson said DUP ministers will focus on crisis talks which are due to begin later this week.

The talks are planned for this week at Stormont House with Secretary of State Theresa Villiers representing London and Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, Dublin.

The DUP leader said: "There will be no further meeting of the Northern Ireland Executive unless in "exceptional circumstances".

Mr Robinson said if a "satisfactory resolution in the talks is not a last resort Ministerial resignations will follow".

"For our part we will take steps to ensure that pending a satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues business will not be as usual.

"As a first step there will be no further meetings of the Northern Ireland Executive unless we deem there are exceptional circumstances.  In addition there will be no North South Ministerial meetings in any format. 

"Our Ministers shall be focused on the talks process and attempting to get the best outcome for our community.

"We have already welcomed the talks process which should be serious and sustained in nature.  If we are not satisfied that parties are applying themselves to achieving an outcome in a reasonable timeframe we will initiate a further step.

"If it becomes apparent to us that a satisfactory resolution in the talks is not possible then, as we indicated in our earlier statement, as a last resort Ministerial resignations will follow. 

"However, we must make it clear that any election that follows such an eventuality will not be an election to return to the present Assembly arrangements, as we will not nominate a First Minister until a fundamental and more wide-ranging negotiation produces a system that can fully function.  

"The present Assembly has been blocked from delivering for over two years because Sinn Fein and the SDLP would not take difficult financial decisions.

"The DUP is committed to engaging in the Talks in a positive and diligent manner and will seek to see the Stormont House Agreement implemented and the issue of paramilitaries dealt with comprehensively.”

Politicians are due to debate a Sinn Fein motion condemning the murders of former IRA members Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan, and calling on anyone with information to pass it on to the police.

Police have insisted the IRA is not back on a war footing but the disclosure that the organisation sent shockwaves through the institution.

Mr Robinson said the DUP is "not prepared to continue as if nothing has happened".

In his statement he said: "The impartial advice that the murder of Kevin McGuigan involved members of the Provisional IRA who are associated with Sinn Fein brought about a watershed moment in the operation of the Northern Ireland Assembly. 

"All the parties had previously agreed that it is inconsistent with membership of the Executive to be linked to those participating in terrorist or criminal behaviour.  However the rules relating to handling this set of circumstances are deficient and a sanction could not be imposed on Sinn Fein for this breach.

"The UUP carried out its stunt of a single ministerial resignation that they knew would not impact Sinn Fein or the operation of either the Assembly or Executive. 

"Then, inexplicably, when the DUP and Alliance Party voted to adjourn the Assembly to allow parties to focus on talks to resolve all the outstanding issues the UUP voted with Sinn Fein to ensure that the Assembly would carry on as normal.

"The DUP is not prepared to continue as if nothing has happened.  A man has been murdered at the hands of those linked to a party of government.  This is unacceptable.

"Indeed we believe that the association with Sinn Fein is much greater than that so far revealed.  If further revelations occur it will be hard for those who want ‘business as usual’ at Stormont to justify their position."


The current political climate is "undermining business and consumer confidence", a joint statement signed by CBI Northern Ireland, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, NICVA and Ulster Farmers' Union has said.

Issued by Concordia the joint statement called for the continuation of Stormont.

It called for a "total end to violence by all paramilitary groups irrespective of whatever community they come from".

It said: "As talks begin to resolve another political crisis in Northern Ireland, we urge all NI political parties, the British and Irish Governments and USA interests to ensure the continuation of our political institutions.

"The social partners, CBI, ICTU, NICVA and UFU, seek a total end to violence by all paramilitary groups irrespective of whatever community they come from.  Violence of any form has exacerbated the socio-economic situation affecting all citizens in Northern Ireland but with a particular impact on those living in our marginalised communities.

"Our appeal for the continuation of the political institutions in Northern Ireland is premised on our belief that we can only achieve a thriving economy rooted in equality and justice for all in a society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

"The current political situation is undermining business and consumer confidence. Political stability through effective government is the foundation for a successful economy delivering increased living standards for all."

It continued: "In pursuit of that objective it is acknowledged that Northern Ireland is, as a region of the UK, different both in political and social terms, and faces particular unique challenges. Through working effectively together with a strategic focus we believe these challenges can be addressed.

"The current austerity measures imposed by Westminster do act as a significant constraint to the growth in our economy, and has a detrimental impact on many aspects of our economy and those most in need.

"This necessitates a greater focus on creating an innovative and more productive enterprise sector, delivering higher value jobs.

"We as social partners in CBI, ICTU, NICVA and UFU hold differences of opinion on many policy issues and we will not always agree with or support every Northern Ireland Executive decision.

"However, we are united in recognising that good government that functions and makes decisions is needed locally. Furthermore we recognise that a financial stimulus to increase investment in skills and infrastructure is necessary, and to ensure the delivery of high quality public services.

"To deliver on such a substantive programme means that the Northern Ireland Executive will have to consider using existing local revenue raising powers to supplement investment."

Further reading:

DUP accused of playing 'Hokey Cokey' over Executive meetings  

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