The political crisis at Stormont has deepened with DUP leader Peter suggesting that the British government should respond to the continuing stalemate.
Contact between the DUP and Sinn Féin has reduced but is continuing in an attempt to resolve the problems which have prevented the executive from meeting since June. However, it is clear that the mood is pessimistic and the future of the Stormont regime is increaingly in doubt.
Questions are now starting to be asked about how long it will take before the Dublin and London governments step in.
The extent of the difficulties were underlined after Mr Robinson declared at the Westminster parliament in London that Sinn Féin had “retreated” from an agreement on July 28. He has claimed that an agreed text on the transfer of policing and justice powers from London to Belfast had secured a perpetual unionist veto over the choice of Justice Minister at Stormont.
The DUP leader also insisted that Sinn Féin’s opposition to a British military parade in Belfast had further damaged the possibility of agreement and accused Sinn Féin of behaving in a “reckless” way. He criticised Sinn Féin’s plans for a protest against Sunday’s parade by British soldiers, describing it as a “recipe for disaster” and designed to “intimidate and provoke”.
Sinn Féin accused the DUP leader of simply making excuses for his party’s failure to implement the St Andrew’s Agreement.
Assembly members today began their week-long Halloween holiday amid a warning the Belfast legislature has “no real business”. The Assembly and Executive have not functioned properly since June.
Alliance leader David Ford admitted the situation was bleak.
“I think people might recognise that if the Executive was giving the Assembly some business then a weeks’ break in the four months between September and December could be justified to allow members to do other things including work in their constituencies,” he said.
“However, I am sure most people will share the level of frustration which certainly we in the Alliance group feel that the Assembly has virtually no business at the moment.”