Northern Ireland parties meet for political crisis talks

9 Sep 15

The five main Northern Ireland parties have embarked on talks to resolve concerns around paramilitary activity that are threatening to bring down the province’s power-sharing executive.

Talks are intended to address concerns raised by unionist parties after a police investigation found the “organisational infrastructure” of the Provisional IRA still exists. The parties – the Democratic Unionist Party, the Ulster Unionist Party, Sinn Féin, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, and the Alliance party – are also considering how to implement the Stormont House agreement, including welfare reform.

Following the conclusions by the police that members of the Provisional IRA were allegedly involved in the murder of Kevin McGuigan last month, the Ulster Unionist Party announced that it would withdraw from the Northern Ireland Executive. The Democratic Unionist Party, which leads the devolved administration, then said there would be no further meetings until there was “a satisfactory resolution” to the problem.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said yesterday’s first day of discussions had been “genuinely constructive”. Further discussions will continue today.

“All participants acknowledged that it was vital to resolve the issues on the agenda. The institutions are at risk if this process fails,” she added.

“Northern Ireland’s political leaders have achieved great things working together in the past. I hope this process will deliver real progress on implementing the Stormont House Agreement and dealing with issues around paramilitaries, to help build a brighter more secure future for Northern Ireland.”

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