The British government must take action to deal with the fallout sparked by an IRA-linked murder before the Democratic Unionists are prepared to enter cross-party crisis talks in the North, leader Peter Robinson has indicated.
Mr Robinson said the contents of a British government statement due to be made to the House of Commons today would influence his party’s approach to the negotiations.
The DUP leader, who stood aside as Stormont first minister last week amid the furore created by the killing of Kevin McGuigan, said he would not make public what his party has asked of Prime Minister David Cameron.
Sinn Féin has insisted talks aimed at resolving the dispute cannot come with preconditions attached.
Potential actions open to the UK Government include establishing new mechanisms to monitor paramilitary activity and provide assessments of the extent of IRA activity. Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers is to outline the Government’s position at Westminster.
Mr Robinson said it was important the DUP proposals were reflected in Ms Villiers’ statement.
“If not, then quite frankly we will have decisions to take as a party,” he added.
“But we want to be involved in a talks process, that’s what we believe should happen, but we want to know that some of the main parties that will be involved and will have to take decisions are taking the issue seriously.”
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said he had also urged the British Government to take action, specifically in regard to dealing with paramilitarism and organised crime. He insisted negotiations could only proceed if Sinn Féin stops denying the IRA exists.
The republican party has vehemently rejected the assessment of police chiefs and the two governments that structures of the IRA are still in operation. Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness has warned there could be no preconditions. He said if full-scale talks fail, or do not proceed, then the next logical step is a snap election.
“I do think that as we enter into these discussions that it is very, very important that we do so on the basis of no preconditions. And I want to see, and am working for, talks to take place with a view to a successful outcome. But if talks are not going to take place and if talks do take place and there is no successful outcome then, in my view, the next logical step is to an election.”
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