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I need concessions to attend talks: Peter Robinson

By Liam Clarke

The DUP will not attend Monday's all-party talks without more concessions from the Government.

Peter Robinson, who stood aside as First Minister this week, outlined the potential political choreography as the Prime Minister urged Northern Ireland's politicians to "go the extra mile" to save the institutions.

The DUP is seeking a clampdown on IRA criminality from the Government. The party will also reappoint its ministers at the end of the week and then get them to resign again if that is what it takes to prevent Sinn Fein or the SDLP taking the seats.

Earlier this week Mr Robinson got his ministers to resign in protest at the fact the Assembly was not being halted during talks. The talks were sparked by the murder of Kevin McGuigan which police say IRA members were involved in. A number of IRA veterans have been arrested as part of the investigation but all were released without charge.

"We want the talks to take place in a proper atmosphere where the participants are taking seriously the issues at stake, we think more is required of the Government before we can do that," Mr Robinson told the BBC's Mark Devenport on Inside Politics yesterday evening.

He added: "I am talking to the Government to ensure that they are set up in a proper fashion. I have been disappointed, I have to say, that while, on the one hand, I have heard the right kind of language from the Government in relation to the IRA and the paramilitary activity and the murder, we still haven't had any action which shows that the Government is taking this issue seriously. So in the context of all of that we are determined that we have a space where we can go ahead with the talks."

Mr Robinson (below) said he had six requirements he wished to raise with the Secretary of State. He confirmed one was the creation of the new monitoring body to report on the IRA and other paramilitaries. It is understood others include a clampdown on alleged republican involvement in fuel laundering, counterfeit goods and cigarette smuggling.

In recent weeks he has asked Theresa Villiers to return to jail republican prisoners released early on licence where there is suspicion of illegal activity. He asked for two men arrested in the McGuigan investigation to go back to prison, however it turned out that one man's licence had expired, so he could not be returned, the other was outside Northern Ireland at the time of the murder.

Mr Robinson confirmed that his party's ministers will not be taking their salaries. They have submitted letters of resignation but the DUP has seven days to nominate replacements. If they choose not to then nationalist parties would have next pick.

"I don't intend to allow ministries to go to Sinn Fein and the SDLP. I don't think Sinn Fein should have any additional ministries. Why should they be rewarded for the bad behaviour?" he said.

He has himself "stood aside" as First Minister with Arlene Foster, the Finance Minster, taking his post as well as retaining her own. She says that this is so she can act as a "gatekeeper" to keep any "rogue" or "renegade" ministers from nationalist or republican parties spending money recklessly.

If he takes part in talks, Mr Robinson hopes they will proceed quickly. "I am hoping we can get the right basis upon which talks can take place. If we can then I think three, four, five weeks should be more than sufficient."

Belfast Telegraph


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