Belfast Telegraph

Martin McGuinness cancels White House St Patrick's Day visit amid welfare reform deadlock

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister has pulled out of a St Patrick's Day visit to Washington because of the deadlock over welfare reform.

Martin McGuinness said he wanted to focus on resolving the crisis at Stormont.

The Sinn Fein deputy leader said: "I have decided therefore in the best interests of trying to move the situation forward that I will not be travelling to the US to take part in events marking St Patrick's Day."

Mr McGuinness and First Minister Peter Robinson had been invited to the White House for the annual St Patrick's Day celebrations on Tuesday.

However, last week, in the wake of Sinn Fein's dramatic withdrawal of support for welfare legislation, Mr Robinson indicated that he may not travel to the United States for the event.

The five main Executive parties have been engaged in emergency talks since last Thursday and are expected to resume negotiations tomorrow.

In a statement released this morning Mr McGuinness said: "The number one priority for me and my party is finding a resolution to the difficulties currently facing the Executive.

"The Sinn Fein team and I have engaged in this work positively and constructively.

"Progress has been made in talks between the parties but there is still a lot of work to be done."


Further reading:

Welfare delays 'cost £2m a week in fines' off block grant

Mass strike brings thousands of Public Sector workers out in protest over spending cuts in Northern Ireland

Thousands pack Derry's Guildhall Square to show solidarity with strikers

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