Belfast Telegraph

Stormont crisis: Prime Minster urges Northern Ireland politicians to go the 'extra 10 miles' and rules out Assembly suspension

David Cameron says he wants powersharing institutions to succeed

Prime Minister David Cameron has urged Northern Ireland politicians to go the "extra 10 miles" if they have to in order to overcome the crisis threatening to bring down Stormont.

Yesterday Stormont went into meltdown after First Minister Peter Robinson announced he was stepping aside and his DUP ministers were to resign.

Only Finance Minister Arlene Foster is to remain in her post and take on the role of Acting First minister in what was described as a "gatekeeper" role to prevent controversial government decisions by the remaining nationalist and republican ministers.

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Speaking in Leeds today, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "We stand ready to help, including standing ready to help with getting rid of the paramilitary organisations and properly examining how they still exist, what they consist of and putting them out of commission in our country.

"I would appeal to the politicians to go the extra mile, the extra 10 miles if they have to, to make these institutions work for people in Northern Ireland."

Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said politicians had "six weeks" to save the Executive.

Mr Cameron added: "It is unacceptable in any part of our country to have active paramilitary groups.

"They have to be disbanded, and disbanded on all sides, and it is absolutely vital and I can completely understand about the concerns that have been expressed because of what has happened in recent weeks in terms of these appalling murders.

"I want these devolved institutions to succeed, everyone wants them to succeed, so I don't think it is right for the British government, the UK Government, to step in and suspend the institutions.

"I want to see the politicians of Northern Ireland coming together, talking together, working out how to make these institutions work."

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The Executive walkout came after the DUP failed to get the Assembly adjourned to allow crisis talks to address the implications of the murder of Kevin McGuigan.

The political furore over the killing intensified on Wednesday when three senior republicans were arrested in connection with the murder.

Three men and a woman have been released unconditionally by police.

One of those arrested, Sinn Fein northern chairman, Bobby Storey, has threatened legal action over his detention.

As he announced the resignations, Mr Robinson repeated a demand for the Government to suspend the institutions outright to enable space for the talks to happen. Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers last night rejected the call.

The fallout from the murder of Mr McGuigan has already seen the Ulster Unionists resign their one ministerial post.

The exit of Mr Robinson along with three of the DUP's four other ministers, and its one junior minister, has left the 13-minister administration in freefall.

The departments of health and social care; social development; enterprise, trade and investment; and regional development are now effectively rudderless.

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson steps down: Timeline of events

Meanwhile Gerry Adams, speaking at a Sinn Fein event in Meath again reiterated his party's determination to do all it could to find a resolution to the crisis.

He said: "Martin McGuinness spoke for all of us last night when he said: “if there's a will to resolve these difficult issues, it certainly can be done. Do I think it can be done? Yes I do."

"That is the commitment of our party – to do all that we can to find solutions to the many difficulties facing the political institutions.

"But the resistance to change remains within unionism and the systems, north and south, and in the British establishment.

"The current contrived crisis in the institutions is a consequence of the inter-unionist electoral rivalry between the UUP and DUP.

"The Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has demonstrated no concern about the political and social and community consequences of his cynical actions.

"He wants to score points against the DUP and he will exploit any situation, use any opportunity, even one as grave as the murder of two people, Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan, to do this.

"And then into this mix we have the arrest of our friend and leader Bobby Storey.

"For political unionism and some sections of the media Bobby Storey is guilty by virtue of the fact that he was arrested and he is a Sinn Fein leader.

"Let me repeat again my very grave concerns at the way in which this crisis has developed and has been exploited."

Mr Adams continued: "The collective responsibility of all the parties is to take a step back. We will work with those willing to work with us to find resolutions to all of the outstanding issues."

"We have a short window of opportunity to chart a different course through this crisis. That is the commitment of this Sinn Fein leadership.

"The focus of party leaders and particularly the two governments, must be on ending the budgetary crisis; seeing the full implementation of the Good Friday and subsequent agreements; and ending forever the ability of dissident and criminal gangs to collapse the institutions.

"Criminal investigations are not part of the political process.

"They are the responsibility of the PSNI and An Garda Siochana. We have a duty to support them and Sinn Fein does this.

"Everyone needs to do the same."

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