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UUP leaders agree to withdraw from NI government

Leaders approve the withdrawal of the party from the power-sharing government. Credit: PA wire

Senior members of the Ulster Unionist Party have voted to withdraw from Northern Ireland's power-sharing government over claims the Provisional IRA (PIRA) still exists.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt proposed the exit in response to a police assessment that structures of the supposedly defunct paramilitary organisation remain in place and some of its members were involved in a recent Belfast murder.

The UUP's ruling executive approved Mr Nesbitt's recommendation at a meeting in an east Belfast hotel.

Mr Nesbitt has said the revelations about the IRA have shattered trust in Sinn Fein and the UUP can no longer work in coalition with the republican party.

The move will not cause a collapse of the administration but will pressure the Democratic Unionists, the largest party in the coalition, to follow suit.

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McGuinness accuses UUP of playing party politics

Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has accused the UUP of playing party politics after it said it was withdrawing from Northern Ireland's Executive.

UUP leader: We are in a bad place but this can be fixed

UUP Party leader Mike Nesbitt. Credit: PA Wire

Announcing the decision to withdraw his party from the power-sharing executive, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said:

That decision is to withdraw from the Northern Ireland Executive, to form an Opposition and offer people an alternative, as is the way in any proper democracy.

We are in a bad place but this can be fixed.

But the IRA need to go away and stop terrorising their own communities.

– Mike Nesbitt, UUP leader

UUP to withdraw from NI's power-sharing executive

The Ulster Unionist Party has withdrawn from Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive and formed an opposition over claims the Provisional IRA still exists.

Northern Ireland's Assembly. Credit: PA Wire

The UUP's executive is to meet on Saturday to endorse the party leadership's decision.

The announcement comes after the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said structures of the paramilitary organisation are still operating.

Officers claim IRA members were involved in the murder of father-of-nine Kevin McGuigan, who was shot dead in Belfast two weeks ago.

The UUP's decision will not automatically trigger a collapse of the administration as it is only a minor party in the five-party mandatory coalition.

But it will pile the pressure on the region's largest party, the Democratic Unionists, to follow suit.

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Two arrested over shooting of prominent NI republican

A man and a woman have been arrested over the murder of a prominent Northern Irish republican in what many believe was an IRA revenge attack.

Father-of-nine Kevin McGuigan, aged 53, was shot dead at point blank range in front of his wife outside their home in Short Strand, Belfast, on Wednesday.

Kevin McGuigan, pictured when his son was in hospital in 2011 Credit: PA

Detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) today said they had arrested a 44-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman, who were being questioned as part of the "overall investigation".

Mr McGuigan was suspected by some in the republican movement of being involved in the murder of former IRA leader Gerard 'Jock' Davison three months ago, triggering widespread speculation that his killing may have been a revenge attack.

Sinn Fein has denied any suggestion of IRA involvement, but Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson warned the party it would face explusion from the power-sharing Executive if it emerged the IRA was responsible.

Police say Mr McGuigan was interviewed over Mr Davison's death, but as a witness, not a suspect.

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