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'How dare she': Joan Burton hits back at Mary Lou

The debate over the status of the IRA rages on, with rounds of meetings today in Dublin, London and Belfast.

Mary Lou McDonald and Joan Burton
Mary Lou McDonald and Joan Burton
Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated 3.50pm 

TÁNAISTE JOAN BURTON has hit back at Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald as the ongoing row over the status of the Provisional IRA rumbles on.

McDonald has criticised Burton for politicising the row that has flared up in the wake of the murders of former PIRA members Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison and Kevin McGuigan in recent weeks.

The Sinn Féin deputy leader said politicians on both sides of the border were quick to seize on the two murders and the grief of the families.

She called on those politicians to “take stock” over the coming days, suggesting they had contributed to the current political crisis.

But Burton hit back strongly today, saying: “I would say to Mary Lou McDonald, that I have been involved in this country in seeking to find a peaceful resolution and to end the spectre of paramilitarism in this country.

And how dare she object to politicians, who have always been entirely democratic, giving a point of view that criminality and racketeering should be eliminated from our country north and south of the border. I don’t think on that that she can given any lectures to anybody who has been part of a democratic peaceful process on this island.

Burton said that Sinn Féin always have “somebody to blame for everything” and said that she continued to be concerned about the issues of criminality and racketeering.

Talks

The Labour leader was speaking after this morning taking part in a meeting with the Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan which the Taoiseach also attended.

Justice minister Frances Fitzgerald, foreign affairs minister Charlie Flanagan and junior foreign minister Seán Sherlock met with Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers for over two hours at the Department of Foreign Affairs today.

It comes leaders in London, Dublin and Belfast step up efforts to resolve the impasse at Stormont kicked off by the PSNI’s assessment that members of the Provisional IRA may have been involved in the shooting dead of McGuigan last month.

Speaking after the meeting, Flanagan said both the UK and Irish governments are examining options to avert the threat of Northern political institutions falling.

He did not rule out an independent monitoring arrangement, but said it was too early to talk about the detail.

I believe the important issue is that confidence and trust is restored and this is a matter over the last few weeks which has certainly dissipated.

0046Minister for Foreign Affairs north and south copy Fitzgerald, Flanagan and Sherlock outside the Department of Foreign Affairs at Iveagh House in Dublin today. Source: Sasko Lazarov

‘Settle down’

Speaking to reporters this morning, Enda Kenny said he was hopeful that it would be possible to resolve the criss in the coming weeks and said there was a possibility of a new period of negotiations and talks.

The Taoiseach said he hoped that with the Northern Executive not sitting in September it will offer a period of time for things to ”settle down and focus on how important it is to get this back on track”.

On the issue of the status of the PIRA and criminality, Kenny said:

It’s important that there have been a spate of savage murders over the last number of years and clearly the resources have to be given both to PSNI and to gardaí and the sharing of information so that the law can take its course and that irrespective of who’s involved that the legal system and policing have to be totally objective. 

The UUP pulled out of the power-sharing executive at the weekend, with leader Mike Nesbitt saying the “tipping point” for his party was Sinn Féin’s reaction to the killing.

First Minister Peter Robinson will be in London today for talks with Prime Minister David Cameron.

Meanwhile, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tweeted that he would be meeting Sinn Féin’s negotiating team in Belfast today.

- additional reporting from Daragh Brophy

Read: UUP to withdraw from Executive: ‘We will not stay while Sinn Féin ignores IRA murders’ >

Read: Flanagan warns against “car crash politics” as IRA debate rages on >

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Hugh O'Connell

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