Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State will visit Dublin next week to meet with Irish ministers in a bid to prevent a collapse of government at Northern Ireland’s Assembly, Stormont.
These meetings are being held following a call from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to have Sinn Féin excluded from the Northern Ireland executive over alleged Provisional IRA (PIRA) links to the murder of republican Kevin McGuigan. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) have also said they will withdraw from the Northern Ireland Executive over this issue.
McGuigan (53) was gunned down outside his home in the Short Strand area of Belfast on August 12. His death was said to be retaliation for the earlier murder of leading IRA figure Jock Davison in an internal republican feud.
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers will meet with Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to determine if a collapse of the power-sharing institution can be prevented.
Villiers will meet with the Irish ministers next Tuesday (Sept 2) to discuss the political crisis. The governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom will work over the weekend in an attempt to rescue the power-sharing Executive and the Assembly. It is expected that Villiers and Flanagan will consider all-party talks led by the governments in Dublin and London in an attempt to resolve the crisis
A senior DUP figure told the Irish Times the only way to resolve the situation is for the leader of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, to shift from his current stance that Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable George Hamilton was wrong in his assessment that the IRA still exists and that the some members were involved in McGuigan’s murder, although perhaps without the sanction of IRA leaders.
The source said the government also needs to address the issue of welfare reform, which continues to threaten Stormont.
On Thursday Flanagan said he remained “of the strong view that the interests and welfare of the people of Northern Ireland are best served by an inclusive and fully functioning power-sharing Executive.”
The UUP has already withdrawn Danny Kennedy from the Executive. DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said there would be no “knee jerk” reaction on the matter from his party. The party said it will meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron in an attempt to save the Executive and the Assembly.