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Wednesday 7 December 2016

'Blanket denials' by SF are fuelling crisis - Charlie Flanagan

Minister Charlie Flanagan
Minister Charlie Flanagan

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has said that "blanket denials" by Sinn Fein on the existence of the Provisional IRA are "most unhelpful" and nobody believes them.

Mr Flanagan also said Sinn Fein must do more to ensure that those who have evidence on recent murders should hand it over to the authorities.

He urged all parties in the North to redouble efforts to help avert the collapse of the power-sharing executive.

Flanagan is due to meet with the Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers tomorrow, along with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, to plot the next move in the crisis.

The problems arose after PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton's assertion that IRA members were involved in the murder on August 12 of Kevin McGuigan.

Mr Hamilton also said the Provisional IRA is not engaged in terrorism and there is no evidence the murder was sanctioned by IRA leadership, but the comments have added to the serious erosion of trust between unionists and Sinn Fein.

On Saturday the smaller Ulster Unionist Party voted to remove their representative from the power-sharing government in Belfast.

Threaten

The larger Democratic Unionist Party has already begun a series of moves which threaten to bring down the executive.

Mr Flanagan said it was time everyone re-assessed the benefits of the Belfast executive.

"It is incumbent on everybody to make sure that we return to a re-commitment of the basic principles, to the institutions and indeed the gains of the Good Friday Agreement," Mr Flanagan told RTE.

He said the political situation was grave, but there was no benefit in what he called "car-crash politics". He said the five party leaders in the Stormont administration and the Irish and British governments must work to restore trust.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar weighed into the debate yesterday, calling for "cool heads" to avoid the collapse of the power-sharing executive.

"The constitutional arrangements in the North are imperfect, but they have underpinned stability and peace for more than a decade now," Mr Varadkar said.

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