Robinson under pressure to quit as talks wind down


DUP leader Peter Robinson is likely to resign ‘within weeks’, according to reports, as it emerged that he is likely to be investigated by the PSNI over comments he made in regard to a property deal nine years ago.

A complaint was made by a developer who Robinson accused in parliament of having links with “dirty IRA money” nine years ago. It is the latest controversy in which the North’s First Minister has found himself embroiled in during his time in office, and the constant scandal may now finally be catching up with him.

The loyalist News Letter reported that some DUP members believe Mr Robinson will step down once the Stormont talks are concluded. The 66-year-old, who suffered a heart attack in May, is expected to resign around the time of the party’s conference next month.

Mr Robinson is already under pressure after an Assembly committee was recently told he is set to illicitly profit from the sale of the Dublin government’s portfolio of property assets in the North through funds paid into an offshore account.

The DUP leader has also come under attack from unionists both inside and outside his party over his decision to end a partial boycott of the power-sharing institutions in Belfast, a move which followed allegations of continuing Provisional IRA activity. That decision came despite a British intelligence report which supported claims that the Provisional IRA continues to operate, but broadly in support of the Stormont political process.

Last week high-profile DUP councillor Ruth Patterson said the party’s decision to go back into government with Sinn Féin has “shocked me to the core”.

One unnamed DUP politician also said the decision to parachute Mr Robinson’s former special adviser, Emma Pengelly, into the post of junior minister had angered many within the party.

But British officials in Belfast and London have been talking up the prospect of some kind of deal being announced next week, potentially bringing a close to months of political dysfunction.

After numerous missed deadlines, the basis of an agreement is said to be in place that both the DUP and Sinn Féin can sell to its supporters.

While efforts to resolve a dispute over welfare funds remain deadlocked, talks are still ongoing to persuade the British government to pledge alternative monies as a counterbalance.

While the Tory government in London has categorically ruled out more money to protect the vulnerable, they are said to be amenable to the idea that some additional cash for can be secured for infrastructure projects over and above the usual block grant.

It is understood that any deal will be a revised version of last year’s Stormont House Agreement with an additional section dealing with the IRA and ‘criminality’.

However, the deal is unlikely to silence the critics of the Stormont institutions. This week saw the DUP use their veto at the Assembly to overturn a majority and block a measure to allow same-sex marriage.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty’s programme director in the Six Counties, said that the DUP had abused their powers under the St Andrews Agreement.

Sinn Féin Assembly member Phil Flanagan, while criticising the DUP for blocking the move, insisted the majority result in favour of the motion had been a “moral victory”.


Speaking during a fundraising mission to New York, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the current crisis was essentially the same as previous ones.

“It’s the same old story. It’s about resistance to change which is particularly strong within elements of unreconstructed unionism and the British security system. These folks try their best to frustrate the necessary process of change.

“They have been aided in this by the failure of the two governments to engage consistently and a contrived political crisis by the unionist parties around the brutal murders of two men in Belfast.

“The background to this is the ongoing talks to implement the Stormont House Agreement. I expect these negotiations will come to a conclusion soon.

He said the focus on the Provisional IRA was partly due Sinn Fein’s political opponents in the 26 Counties.

“The motivation for this, at this time, is obvious. Sinn Féin is growing in strength across the island of Ireland.

“We hope to do well in the General Election. We are seeking a mandate to be in Government. Our opponents fear this.”

He said Sinn Fein would not be deterred.

“The Executive, the Assembly and the all-Ireland institutions have worked better for citizens than the years of direct rule by unaccountable British Ministers,” he said.

“So our focus is on resolving the current difficulties, promoting greater all-Ireland co-operation and continuing our efforts to reach out to unionists and build relationships based on equality.”

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