Following the announcement by Northern Secretary of State Theresa Villiers that the British government has commissioned an independent assessment of paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, the DUP has agreed to participate in multiparty talks at Stormont next week.
“This assessment will be published by mid-October and will be available to inform the parties’ discussions and conclusions in the cross party talks,” said Villiers.
Villiers is also establishing a fund to “tackle links between paramilitary organizations and organized crime,” the Irish Times reports.
DUP leader Peter Robinson, who pulled most of his party out of the Northern Ireland Executive after the PSNI acknowledged the presence of the IRA last month, said: "Following the Chief Constable’s assessment of those involved in the murder of Kevin McGuigan the party said that it would not be business as usual.
"We insisted to the government that there were two issues that needed to be addressed if devolution was to continue.
"Those issues were the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement and dealing with all paramilitary structures.
"The party said it would not engage in knee jerk reactions but rather would deal with the outstanding issues in a strategic manner.
"Today's statement by the Secretary of State is a welcome first step in demonstrating that the government are taking our concerns seriously,” Robinson said speaking at Stormont on Friday.
"We recognize the Secretary of State is now taking action to address the two concerns we had raised.
"We have consistently argued that ultimately the business of determining the long-term steps to address paramilitary links must be addressed and resolved through the talks.
"On the basis of the Secretary of State’s statement today we will be participating in the talks on Monday.
Martin McGuinness said Sinn Féin will be entering the talks on Monday as a party “totally and absolutely committed to a peaceful and democratic way of moving forward.”
He said that Stormont had a collective responsibility “to stand together against criminality, violence and the existence of all armed groups.”
In a statement, McGuinness said: “Sinn Féin is committed to pursuing our goals through peaceful and democratic means and is entering these talks on the firm and sole basis of our electoral mandate.
“We have a burning duty to achieve a resolution to the outstanding issues from Stormont House and other agreements and a workable budget, which enables the Assembly to protect public services and grow the economy.
“We will work with the other parties to tackle the issue of armed groups, which want to drag us back to the past including active unionist paramilitaries and armed republican dissidents, and organized criminals who are a blight on the community.”
PSNI chief constable George Hamilton said it will provide “full co-operation and support to all the measures that have been outlined” by Villiers.
“Organized crime has a disproportionate effect on our most vulnerable communities and we welcome the clear focus on this issue,” he added.
“PSNI will continue to build on our work with the organized crime taskforce, an Garda Síochána and our other partner agencies to tackle organized criminality.
“We welcome the independently reviewed assessment of paramilitary organizations announced by the secretary of state and PSNI will play our part in assisting in this process.”
In a statement issued by Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said:"In regard to the British Government’s factual assessment of paramilitarism, this will be a once-off exercise completed over the coming weeks and is intended to assist the parties in the talks in their collective consideration of how the impact and legacy of paramilitary activity should best be addressed. It does not pre-empt the question of possible future monitoring arrangements which will be a matter for consideration and agreement in the talks.
"The Irish Government remains determined that organized crime from whatever quarter and in whatever manifestation continues to be tackled head on. There is already in place a high level of co-operation to deal with the cross-border aspects of such crime,” says the statement.
“We are committed to working in partnership to robustly tackle the activities of organized criminals who inflict such damage on our communities.
"The functioning of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland is increasingly precarious. Time is running out for the critical issues to be resolved and collapse of the Executive and Assembly averted. It is therefore imperative that the all-party talks now resume. After ten days of shadow-boxing, it is essential that all of the five main parties in Northern Ireland, with the support of the two Governments, urgently get down to the serious business of fully implementing the Stormont House Agreement and addressing the impact and legacy of continuing paramilitary activity. I look forward to these talks resuming on Monday and making rapid progress."