Northern Ireland

DUP ministers resume Northern Ireland Executive posts

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Media captionDUP leader Peter Robinson asks whether anybody thinks "the people in the army council have different fingerprints than the people who are in the leadership of Sinn Féin".

The DUP has said its ministers have resumed their posts following the publication of a report on paramilitary activity on Tuesday.

The party had been moving its ministers in and out of the executive after the murder of Kevin McGuigan sparked a political crisis over the IRA's status.

In a statement the party said its ministers would be reappointed on Tuesday.

It said this was as it now had an up-to-date assessment of paramilitaries.

'Democratic means'

DUP leader Peter Robinson resumed his job as Northern Ireland first minister after stepping aside in September.

He said: "The issue always for all of the parties was whether the parties in government were committed to peaceful and democratic means - the report confirms that that is the case as far as the leadership's concerned.

"But I think depressingly it indicates that that leadership isn't in entire control of the rest of the organisation."

Image caption Before the DUP decided to return to office, its ministers resigned and were reappointed on numerous occasions

He said although his party had reappointed its ministers, the political institutions remained in grave danger.

"I don't think that there's anybody in our community that could be satisfied that after this period in time that these [paramilitary] groups have not self-expired," he said.

"They should have, but it's quite clear that they're not going to take themselves off the stage in their entirety unless they are required to do so and I think that's what this talks process has to do.

Criticism

"We have a talks process and without a satisfactory outcome to that talks process there wouldn't be a basis to have a sustainable executive and assembly. So we have a couple of weeks to save Stormont."

The DUP had come in for criticism from other assembly parties over its "in-out" ministers.

Mr Robinson announced he would step aside as Northern Ireland first minister on 10 September after the party failed to get enough support to adjourn the assembly.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The DUP had been moving its ministers in and out of the executive after the murder of Kevin McGuigan sparked a political crisis over the IRA's status.

Other DUP ministers also resigned, although Arlene Foster remained as finance minister and took over as acting first minister.

The Alliance Party said DUP ministers had "resigned and resumed office more than 20 times since 10 September 2015".

'Contradictory implications'

In its statement on Tuesday, the DUP said: "We sought an up-to-date assessment by the PSNI and security services to inform our future decisions. That is now available to us.

"It confirms the chief constable's August statement rather than the contradictory implications that flowed from the arrest of [Sinn Féin northern chairman] Bobby Storey, and on that basis ministers will be appointed to office later today."

Mr Storey, a former IRA prisoner, is the northern chairman of Sinn Féin.

He was one of three senior republicans arrested and later released without charge in connection with the murder of Mr McGuigan.

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