Thursday 29 September 2016

Stormont crisis: Efforts to suspend Northern Ireland Executive over IRA fears defeated

Published 01/09/2015 | 13:33

The Northern Assembly will not sit this month as party leaders resolve their differences Credit: PA
The Northern Assembly will not sit this month as party leaders resolve their differences Credit: PA

EFFORTS to suspend the Northern Ireland Executive until October were defeated today as senior political figures discuss the crisis stemming from the re-emergence of the IRA.

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The DUP had sought to suspend Stormont sittings while talks took place - but the party has defeated. 

Meanwhile, a series of high level talks involving senior figures in the Irish, British and Northern Ireland administrations are taking place today and will continue for the duration of the week.

The first of these discussions began in Government Buildings in Dublin this morning involving Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Joan Burton, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan.

The commissioner was summoned to the talks to give a briefing on the fallout from the murder of Kevin McGuigan and the subsequent PSNI investigation.

The announcement last month by the North's Chief Constable George Hamilton that the IRA is suspected of being involved in the murder of the father-of-nine has sparked a political crisis on both sides of the border.


Read More: Taoiseach, Garda Commissioner discuss security issues surrounding possible existence of Provisional IRA

Speaking in Dublin today, Mr Kenny said he will discuss the ongoing political crisis with Prime Minister David Cameron when he visits Cambridge on Friday.

But in relation to the IRA and the Garda Commissioner's assessment into its threat, Mr Kenny said he expects Noirin O'Sullivan to keep the Government fully appraised with her work.

"Obviously, the Commissioner outlined the huge extent of cooperation between the PSNI and the gardai, and the level of cooperation that exists - in the sharing of information in so far as a whole range of issues of concern," Mr Kenny said.


Read More: UUP votes to withdraw from government over provisional IRA claims

"So, she will be working through the appraisal that she has undertaken and will be keeping contact with Government and the Minister for Justice," he added.

The decision to order Ms O'Sullivan to carry out the assessment was seen as being embarrassing as she had previously to confirm the presence of an IRA threat.

Asked about his own view of the threat posed by the IRA, Mr Kenny said it is clear from the Chief Constable's remarks that IRA members remained involved in criminality, but not terrorist activity. He said this stance is in line with a report by the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC).

"Clearly people who were involved in the Provisional IRA have drifted into criminality of one sort or another," the Taoiseach said.

"Obviously the statement made by the PSNI Chief Constable is one that is central to the appraisal being carried out by the Commissioner of the gardai and obviously we will monitor that very closely," he added.


Read More: Sinn Fein denials have made fools of the Irish people

Mr Kenny also launched a staunch attack on Sinn Fein, referring to the use of "safe houses" by members of the republican movement to cover up sexual abuse.

"It's not satisfactory to me that we have a situation where we have evidence of safe houses that were used for sexual abuse by republicans," he said.

"It's not satisfactory for me merely to be calling for anybody out there with information to come forward, obviously, those who were involved in those years know many names and they should be in contact with those names so that the law of the land can apply and so that in many areas, on the border in particularly, that people are not afraid to open their mouths," he added.

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