Senior Sinn Féin strategist Bobby Storey has been released from police custody following his arrest in connection with the brutal murder of Kevin McGuigan.
Mr Storey, a former IRA prisoner, was released from Antrim police station at around 6:15pm - just moments after the North’s deputy first minister Martin McGuinness announced the pending release on twitter.
Victim: Kevin McGuigan was shot dead in east Belfast
The arrest of Mr Storey, an alleged former IRA member, sent shockwaves through political circles both North and South of the border and plunged Sinn Féin into crisis.
His detention was also highlighted by unionist politicians as being illustrative of Sinn Féin’s alleged connections to criminal activity. He was one of four people being questioned today by police in connection with the fatal shooting of Mr McGuigan in Belfast last month.
Revelations by the PSNI that the IRA is suspected of being involved in the murder of the father-of-nine has created a political crisis in the North.
Political leaders have just six days to return to talks or the Stormont administration will collapse.
Mr Storey’s release is the latest twist during a dramatic day in political circles both North and South.
Among the developments included:
The decision by the DUP to resign en masse from the Stormont Executive
First Minister Peter Robinson stepped aside as MLA Arlene Foster took over in an acting capacity
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan travelled to Belfast to help prevent a full-blown crisis
Irish ministers were forced to deny that they took their “eye off the ball” in relation to the North
The crisis in the North overshadowed the Fine Gael think-in in Adare.
Before the think-in, Taoiseach Enda Kenny met SDLP representatives in Dublin in a bid to persuade them to vote for an adjournment of Stormont to allow crisis talks to take place.
However, the party did the opposite in a move that effectively called the DUP’s bluff. The DUP had said it would collapse Stormont unless the British Government suspended the power-sharing agreement.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Simon Coveney warned tonight that political leaders have just six days to prevent the collapse of Stormont.
Mr Coveney said he is concerned that a “hugely damaging development” is on the cards which would completely undermine the Good Friday Agreement.
“We have a very short time window to ensure that we don’t trigger a hugely damaging development in Northern Ireland where devolved government and power sharing would be over, albeit temporarily, which of course undermines the Good Friday Agreement which people all over this island voted for,” Mr Coveney said.