Northern Ireland

Peter Robinson rejects Sinn Fein call for talks resumption

Peter Robinson
Image caption Peter Robinson said he did not believe a resumption of formal talks would achieve anything

First Minister Peter Robinson has rejected Sinn Féin's call for a resumption of all-party talks on parades, flags and the past.

The appeal for a return to negotiations came from Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

He said now that the On The Runs Report has been published, unionists should get back around the talks table.

But in a BBC interview, Mr Robinson said he did not believe a resumption of formal talks would achieve anything.

He said unionists' focus was on their campaign for a commission of inquiry on parades, which would be raised again at a meeting with Secretary of State Theresa Villiers next week.

At the start of this month, unionist parties walked out of talks about parades, flags and the past, in protest at a Parades Commission determination barring an Orange Order parade from returning along part of the Crumlin Road in north Belfast.

The Stormont talks came six months after the last major push to resolve the outstanding issues - chaired by former US diplomat Richard Haass and Harvard professor Meghan O'Sullivan - ended without agreement.

Asked about a Sunday newspaper report that he would be replaced as DUP leader in September, Mr Robinson described the story as "garbage" and said speculation about his future had become "boring".

Also in the interview, the DUP leader accused Sinn Féin of foot-dragging on the latest financial monitoring round at Stormont and claimed funding for the Historical Abuse Inquiry (HAI) was at risk.

He said if the dispute was not resolved, the abuse inquiry would have to be suspended.

Sinn Féin said it had been attempting to get the DUP to agree the June monitoring round for the last two weeks.

"But this cannot be based on a unilateral DUP imposition of an arbitrary £87m in Tory cuts in a routine monitoring round. Tory cuts are a political issue that should be separated out and dealt with by the executive collectively," the party's Daithí McKay said.

"The June monitoring round can and should be agreed quickly and the money made available for the work of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry and for the large number of other projects affected."

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said the inquiry should not be under any threat.

"While the inquiry is dependent on monitoring funds, it is inconceivable to the Ulster Unionist Party that the Northern Ireland Executive would allow the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry to be wound up early for the lack of resources," he said.

"Tonight many, many victims will be unnecessarily dismayed and distressed after hearing Peter Robinson say that this outrageous suggestion is even being considered."

Kincora call

Meanwhile, Mr Robinson said the terms of reference for the UK's abuse inquiry should include the Kincora Boys' Home in east Belfast.

In 1981, three senior care staff at the east Belfast home were jailed for abusing 11 boys.

The chair of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, Sir Anthony Hart, has said the HIAI "does not have sufficient powers" to investigate some of the allegations relating to Kincora.

Mr Robinson said: "I want to see a full investigation into the terrible abuses which occurred in Kincora.

"Having received this communication from Sir Anthony, it is clear that the proper route to fully investigate the abuse at Kincora Boys' Home is to have it included in our United Kingdom's Child Abuse Inquiry."

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