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MPs warned Stormont is 'increasingly dysfunctional'

The political crisis in Northern Ireland is "very grave", NI Secretary Theresa Villiers has told the House of Commons - though she ruled out the suspension of assembly or a return to direct rule.

However, she warned, the UK government was willing to legislate for welfare reforms in the country from Westminster if parties cannot reach an agreement.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers updated the House of Commons today

Further talks will be held at Stormont in the coming days, she said, after DUP leader Peter Robinson announced that his party's ministers - with the exception of Finance Minister Arlene Foster - were resigning from the Northern Ireland Executive.

"A number of departments are left without ministerial leadership and relationships between the parties have almost completely broken down," Ms Villiers told MPs.

"That leaves the devolved institutions looking increasingly dysfunctional."

The mass resignations came after two murders which raised suspicions that the IRA was still active in the country.


DUP fail to attend Stormont meeting amid IRA row

Power-sharing at Stormont is under increased pressure as the political crisis continues. Credit: PA Wire

The Democratic Unionists (DUP) have failed to show up at the start of an Assembly meeting amid the ongoing power-sharing crisis in Northern Ireland.

Last week, First Minister Peter Robinson stepped aside and pulled most of his ministers from office after affirming that it will not be business as usual until a row over the IRA is resolved.

It came after nationalist parties said they would not support the DUP's proposal to adjourn power-sharing at the Assembly following a murder that police have linked to the Provisional IRA.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers is meeting with the main political parties in bid to help resolve the impasse.

Power sharing crisis talks to convene at Stormont

Theresa Villiers to convene talks at Stormont today. Credit: Reuters

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers will convene talks at Stormont House today, aimed at saving Northern Ireland's power sharing government from collapse.

It comes after First Minister and Democratic Unionist Party leader Peter Robinson stepped down after nationalist parties refused to adjourn power-sharing at the Northern Ireland Assembly following a murder that police said was linked to the disbanded IRA.

The negotiation process is expected to last four to six weeks and today's session will involve bilateral meetings between Ms Villiers and individual parties.

Peter Robinson announces his resignation at Stormont Credit: PA Wire

Sinn Fein northern chairman Bobby Storey released by police

Bobby Storey pictured in August Credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire/

Sinn Fein's northern chairman Bobby Storey has been released by detectives investigating a killing by IRA members, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has said.

He was one of three leading republicans questioned about the shooting dead of Kevin McGuigan in Belfast last month.

The disclosure that Provisional IRA members are believed to be behind the death has rocked the Northern Ireland Assembly, with Democratic Unionist First Minister Peter Robinson resigning as Northern Ireland First Minister.

Mr Storey's solicitor John Finucane tweeted: "After 2 days in Antrim my client Bobby Storey has been freed. No evidence was put at any stage & my client will be suing for unlawful arrest."


Peter Robinson's resignation speech in full

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson has resigned after nationalist parties refused to accept suspension of power-sharing at Stormont.

As someone who invested many hours trying to bring devolution to Northern Ireland, and to maintain it, I have tried to create space to allow these critical unresolved matters to be dealt with in a structured manner.

Local Ministers making local decisions is best for Northern Ireland.

The failure of the SDLP and Sinn Fein to implement the Stormont House Agreement together with the assessment from the Chief Constable of the involvement of IRA members in murder, the continued existence of the IRA and the arrests that followed has pushed devolution to the brink.

Yesterday I indicated that we would ask the Business Committee to adjourn Assembly proceedings to allow negotiations to take place. That proposal did not find sufficient support. The Government can still legislate to suspend the Assembly and allow space for the parties to negotiate.

In light of the decision by republicans, nationalists and the UUP to continue with business as usual in the Assembly, I am therefore standing aside as First Minister and other DUP Ministers will resign with immediate effect with the exception of Arlene Foster. I have asked Arlene to remain in post as Finance Minister and acting First Minister to ensure that nationalists and republicans are not able to take financial and other decisions that may be detrimental to Northern Ireland.

– Peter Robinson

DUP leader Peter Robinson resigns amid Stormont turmoil

Stormont First Minister and Democratic Unionist leader Peter Robinson has announced he is to resign and that party colleague Arlene Foster is to take over as temporary First Minister

Peter Robinson announces his resignation at Stormont Credit: PA Wire

His resignation came soon after nationalist parties said they would not support the DUP's proposal to adjourn power-sharing at the Northern Ireland Assembly following a murder that police said was linked to the disbanded IRA.

Mr Robinson had warned that his ministers would resign if the Assembly was not adjourned or the British Government did not suspend the institutions.

Cameron 'gravely concerned' about Northern Ireland

David Cameron has expressed his "deep concern" over the possible collapse of power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland is facing its biggest political crisis in more than a decade, with the government likely to be asked to suspend the province's power-sharing administration after a murder that police said was linked to the disbanded IRA.

The PM is gravely concerned about the situation... we want to see all politicians in Northern Ireland working together to build a better future for the country.

– Spokeswoman for David Cameron

Mr Cameron was considering the "next steps" and speaking to both the province's First Minister Peter Robinson and the Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers, the spokeswoman said.

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