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You won't undermine mandate, Sinn Fein warns Robinson


Kevin McGuigan

Kevin McGuigan

Kevin McGuigan

Sinn Fein has challenged Peter Robinson's claim republicans could be expelled from Government if the report on paramilitary activity finds the IRA is involved in "preparing terrorism".

The report - ordered by Secretary of State Theresa Villiers after PSNI claims that IRA members were involved in the murder of Kevin McGuigan in August - is expected to be published at lunchtime.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams warned: "Whatever its conclusions, Sinn Fein will not tolerate any undermining of the rights of citizens who vote for Sinn Fein. This party has a mandate, democratically achieved at the ballot box and we will not accept any infringement or erosion of that mandate by the British Government or anyone else."

Speaking in Strabane, Mr Adams was flatly denying Mr Robinson's view put forward in an exclusive article by the DUP leader in yesterday's Belfast Telegraph.

The First Minister said the DUP will accept the report, adding: "If the report indicates the IRA is involved in or preparing for terrorist activity... then it would be impossible to sustain an Executive that included Sinn Fein."

The DUP could still bring down the Executive by walking out without Sinn Fein's say so, but that would herald new negotiations.

Mrs Villiers has said that she does not believe the report panel's assessment will be radically different from the Chief Constable's.

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While the PSNI said that individual IRA members were responsible for killing Belfast man Mr McGuigan in revenge for the murder of Gerard 'Jock' Davison, the Chief Constable has said the "Provisional IRA is now promoting a peaceful, political republican agenda".

He said: "It is our assessment that the Provisional IRA is committed to following a political path and is no longer engaged in terrorism.

"I accept the bona fides of the Sinn Fein leadership regarding their rejection of violence."

Unless the report contradicts him, that gives the DUP an opening to return ministers to Government and get on with talks.

Mr Adams also reopened the issue of the budget, in deficit partly because London is claiming back excess welfare payments from Stormont. Other cuts are looming.

Mr Adams challenged this, saying: "Key to the Stormont House Agreement for Sinn Fein was the achievement of a workable and sustainable budget to meet the challenges facing the Assembly and Executive and communities ravaged by decades of discrimination and inequality and conflict.

"The British Government subsequently reneged on its commitments and a new round of financial decisions have been taken that will increase poverty and hardship for tens of thousands of families in the North already pinned to the collar."

Sinn Fein and the DUP have searched for items other than welfare which London might pay for, sparking accusations of gamesmanship from Jim Allister of the anti-Agreement TUV.

"The DUP are mad keen to get back to business as usual with Sinn Fein/IRA. In fact, there was no desire to break it off in the first place. The farce of repeated resignations and reappointments were perhaps the only cases in history of resignations designed specifically to keep a Government afloat rather than ministers resigning on principle," he said, calling for an election to "allow the people to pass their verdict on this approach".

Politics, Page 14

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