Thursday 29 September 2016

Assembly 'has no future unless deal deadlock broken'

Published 20/06/2015 | 02:30

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers at the British-Irish Council in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers at the British-Irish Council in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

There is no future for the Northern Ireland Assembly unless a deal on social-welfare reform is honoured, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny was told yesterday.

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The North's First Minister and Democratic Unionist leader, Peter Robinson, issued the stark warning at a meeting of the British-Irish Council (BIC) at Dublin Castle.

Mr Robinson said that unless the deal agreed last December is implemented in full in a matter of months, then the Northern parliament would have no future.

Mr Robinson was speaking amid heightened speculation that Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will resign because of the ongoing dispute relating to the agreement.

Sinn Féin has backed away from commitments to tough welfare cuts in the deal.

The two leaders sat beside each other on the platform during the press conference and relations between the two were visibly frosty yesterday.

Mr Robinson said: "During the course of the meeting, the Taoiseach reported on his meeting with the Prime Minister yesterday in relation to the Stormont House Agreement.

"I very much welcome the fact that the two governments stand by the agreement and want to see it implemented in full.

"That is the position I hold. It deals with a range of issues including welfare reform, the budget, the past, flags and parades.

"It is my view that unless the Stormont House Agreement is implemented in full, there is no future for the assembly or the executive," he said.

Mr McGuinness said he too wants to see the Stormont House Agreement implemented, but said difficulties remain.

He lashed out at the Tory-led welfare cuts in the North over the past four years.

In relation to the speculation around his future, Mr McGuinness said: "There has been a lot of speculation over the course of the last couple of days. I am not responsible for any of it. My focus is resolving the outstanding difficulties and seeing the Stormont House Agreement implemented."

Irish Independent

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