Peter Robinson, the First Minister of Northern Ireland and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), has stood down after weeks of disagreement in the Province. The crisis started following the murder of Kevin McGuigan, who was a former member of the IRA, when the Police Service of Northern Ireland said that the IRA were implicated in his killing.
Robinson said in a statement:
“The failure of the SDLP and Sinn Fein to implement the Stormont House Agreement together with the assessment from the Chief Constable of the involvement of IRA members in murder, the continued existence of the IRA and the arrests that followed has pushed devolution to the brink”.
Downing Street said in a statement:
The Prime Minister is gravely concerned about the situation in Northern Ireland following developments there today.
“Earlier this afternoon, the Prime Minister spoke with Peter Robinson. 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.
They discussed options for what more the UK Government could do to comprehensively address all remaining paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland.
The PM underlined the need for intensive cross party talks to identify ways to tackle all paramilitary groups and to get on with implementation of the Stormont House Agreement
The Prime Minister said that there should be a return to the spirit that had seen politicians show such leadership over the years to deliver a peace process that has inspired people across the world.
The Government objective is clear: we want to work with political leaders for a Northern Ireland where politics works, the economy grows and which is no longer defined by its divided past but by its shared future”.
Arlene Foster, the current Minister for Finance in Northern Ireland, has taken on the role of acting First Minister.