Robinson threatens unilateral action if Assembly not suspended

British and Irish governments set for comprehensive talks in bid to avert collapse

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson has said he will take "unilateral action" if the Assembly is not adjourned or suspended for at least four weeks to allow for all-party talks on the ongoing crisis.

After a flurry of political activity in Dublin, London and Belfast on Tuesday, the British and Irish governments seemed set to initiate a new round of talks to end the crisis over the stated continuing existence of the IRA and the killing of Belfast republican Kevin McGuigan.

Mr Robinson held talks with British prime minister David Cameron in Downing Street on Tuesday evening. In Dublin, Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers met Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan.

At Stormont on Tuesday, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said Sinn Féin wanted to see a resolution and was prepared to enter into the talks demanded by Mr Robinson.


The Stormont business committee rejected a call by the DUP for the Assembly to be adjourned for four weeks to facilitate the talks.

Suspend Assembly

This led Mr Robinson to press Mr Cameron to suspend the Assembly to allow for the negotiations. The prime minister is now considering the request, which would require emergency legislation at Westminster.

“If the prime minister refuses to suspend the Assembly, we will take unilateral action,” said Mr Robinson.

There were suggestions last night that such action could involve DUP Ministers boycotting the Executive and perhaps refusing to attend Assembly sittings or chair committees.

As well as talks, the governments are also considering reactivating the Independent Monitoring Commission to adjudicate on the status of the IRA and other paramilitaries.

In Dublin, Mr Flanagan rejected a statement by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, saying "nobody believes the IRA has disbanded and gone away".

However, the Minister accepted the IRA was no longer active as a paramilitary organisation threatening the State.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times