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Sinn Fein fury at Stormont suspension calls

By Liam Clarke

Published 03/09/2015

Sinn Fein MLAs held a meeting with Theresa Villiers yesterday
Sinn Fein MLAs held a meeting with Theresa Villiers yesterday

Sinn Fein has said it would be "very, very hostile" to the suspension of Stormont and declared that it is unacceptable for the DUP to ask the Prime Minister to return two former IRA prisoners to jail.

The party voiced its concerns to Secretary of State Theresa Villiers yesterday, but has demanded a meeting with David Cameron. After meeting Ms Villiers, Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey said: "Martin McGuinness made it very clear to the Secretary of State that any suggestion that the British Government would suspend these institutions, Sinn Fein would be very, very hostile to that.

"Further to that we will not be in any way co-operating with suspension."

Sinn Fein slammed the DUP for asking the Prime Minister to return two suspects in the murder of Kevin McGuigan to jail. Both had been released under the Good Friday Agreement.

The party said "the fact that Peter Robinson has asked David Cameron to revoke the licences of individual republican ex-prisoners is not acceptable. The DUP have quite deliberately chosen to ignore the fact that both of these men have been released unconditionally by the police".

Police believe the killing of IRA veteran Mr McGuigan in east Belfast was a revenge attack by republican associates of former IRA commander Gerard "Jock" Davison, who was gunned down in May.

A dozen people have been arrested as part of the McGuigan murder investigation but until now all were released without charge. The latest to be pulled in was a 41-year-old from east Belfast.

The DUP had tried to get the Assembly adjourned for up to six weeks at the Assembly's business committee but the bid was voted down.

Since only the Alliance Party supported the move, Mr Cameron is unlikely to suspend Stormont now. Even if he wanted to, it would logistically difficult to get new legislation through. The Commons will only be sitting for a fortnight before it adjourns again for the party conference season and the Government cannot count on a majority in the Lords.

Ms Villiers hopes to meet parties today in an effort to rescue the faltering institutions. The meetings are taking place ahead of the planned resumption of the Assembly on Monday when the Government may convene talks.

However, there is still no commitment for the Prime Minister to meet Sinn Fein before the weekend.

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