Taoiseach to meet SDLP today to discuss Assembly crisis

Taoiseach to meet SDLP today to discuss Assembly crisis

The Taoiseach Is set to hold talks with the SDLP this morning in a bid to save the Stormont Assembly.

It has been reported that Enda Kenny has intervened in the dispute - and will meet with a delegation from the SDLP, led by Alasdair McDonnell, to try and persuade them to support the DUP's call for the Assembly to be adjourned for talks.

The Democratic Unionists will bid to suspend the Assembly again today or collapse the North’s power-sharing government.

The ultimatum from the North's DUP First Minister Peter Robinson expires at the end of the day.

Mr Robinson wants all parties to focus on crisis talks aimed at dealing with the remnants of paramilitarism as well as issues left over from the peace process.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the Irish Government had attempted to convince Sinn Féin to support adjournment - overtures his party rejected.

“The current contrived crisis is a result of inter unionist rivalry and the cynical exploitation of the murder of Kevin McGuigan,” he said.

“An adjournment will reward bad behaviour and further undermine confidence in the political process. It will play into the hands of those who murdered Mr McGuigan and others who want the political institutions to fail.”

Mr Adams said it would be wrong for Mr Kenny to pressurise the SDLP to support adjournment.

“This is a mistake,” he said.

“The Taoiseach is obliged to uphold the Good Friday Agreement and other agreements, and to defend the political institutions. This is what he should do.”

Mr Robinson said yesterday: “The DUP has made it clear it will not be involved in business as usual.

“Other parties must now step up to the mark and stop the Assembly from proceeding as if nothing has happened.

“We have attempted to create the space for these matters to be dealt with, but if others want the Assembly to function normally in spite of Sinn Féin’s position, we will have reached the point where, as a last resort, we will take this final step.”

He issued his ultimatum after the arrest of three senior republicans, including Sinn Féin’s northern chairman Bobby Storey, in connection with the fatal shooting of former IRA man Kevin McGuigan.

Despite unionist calls on Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers to step in and adjourn the Assembly for four weeks, the British government has been reluctant to intervene.

Mr Robinson said if other parties in the Assembly did not back the adjournment move in a crunch vote today, or if the British government did not act to suspend proceedings in the absence of that vote, then he and fellow ministers would resign immediately.

With the DUP unlikely to garner sufficient support for the move among the other parties the failure of power-sharing today is a very real prospect.

The police have said current members of the IRA were involved in the shooting of Mr McGuigan – in a suspected revenge attack for the murder of former IRA commander Gerard “Jock” Davison in Belfast three months earlier.

The revelations about the IRA has heaped pressure on Sinn Féin to explain why the supposedly defunct paramilitary organisation may still be in existence.

The Ulster Unionists have already resigned from the Executive, claiming trust in Sinn Féin has been destroyed.

While the exit of one of the minor partners in the five-party coalition did not bring a collapse, if the DUP follows suit the institutions will fall automatically.

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