Parliamentary chaos in Northern Ireland

Peter Robinson with President Obama.

PETER ROBINSON, Northern Island’s first minister together with other ministers resigned from Stormont on September 10, in support of their belief that the IRA still exists and was responsible for the murder of an ex IRA leader. The arrest of a senior member of Sinn Féin, Bobby Storey as part of the murder inquiry brought the matter to a head.

The first minister had originally called for an adjournment of the Northern Ireland Assembly but this was voted down by Sinn Féin, the Ulster Unionists and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), so he took the step to give up his role as first minister.

Party colleague Arlene Foster is to take over as acting first minister to ensure that the Democratic Unionist party is able – in his words – ‘to ensure that nationalists and republicans are not able to take financial and other decisions that may be detrimental to Northern Ireland.’

In a statement announcing his resignation, Mr Robinson stated ‘The failure of the SDLP and Sinn Féin to implement the Stormont House Agreement, together with the assessment of the chief constable of the involvement of the IRA in murder, the continued existence of IRA structures, and the arrests that followed has pushed devolution to the brink.

‘In light of the decision by republicans, nationalists and the Ulster Unionist Party to continue with business as usual in the assembly, I am therefore standing aside as first minister and other DUP ministers will resign with immediate effect with the exception of my colleague Arlene Foster.’

In response to this, a spokesman for 10 Downing Street said:  ‘While acknowledging the gravity of the situation, the prime minister told Mr Robinson that the UK government did not believe it would be right to introduce emergency legislation now to suspend the assembly.’

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