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UUP to withdraw from Executive: 'We will not stay while Sinn Féin ignores IRA murders'

Mike Nesbitt said a vote will be taken by the party executive on Saturday.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated 6.55pm

THE LEADER OF the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) has recommended that his party withdraws from the Northern Ireland powersharing executive.

In a televised statement this afternoon, Mike Nesbitt said a decision will be made on Saturday.

His recommendation will most likely be passed by the party’s ruling body during the weekend vote.

The move comes after days of speculation about the continued existence of the Provisional IRA.

Nesbitt criticised Sinn Féin’s reaction to the murder of Kevin McGuigan, claiming the party had responded with “the single transferable speech of denial that we’ve been hearing since 1970″.

He said that his party had lost trust in Sinn Féin, adding that he believed they were no longer credible.

Sinn Féin has no credibility and we have no trust. Without trust there is nothing.

Nesbitt accused members of the Provisional IRA of joining forces with “another criminal gang” to murder McGuigan.

“We will not stay in the Executive when the IRA are murdering and Sinn Féin are ignoring it,” he told reporters.

The party held an emergency meeting this morning. Nesbitt made it clear that a withdrawal of the UUP will not dismantle the current Executive. However, he would not be drawn on what the DUP might do in the coming days.

Today, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to hold “urgent talks” with British Prime Minister David Cameron on the issue.

He described the UUP’s decision as “deeply regrettable”.

Nesbitt said the party remains “wedded” to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and to the vision of peace for Republicans, Nationalists and Unionists.

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He said the current issues could be resolved with further clarity about the current command structure of the IRA.

He also said he wanted the IRA, the UVF and the UDA to stop terrorising their communities.

In a statement this afternoon, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said he respects the UUP’s right to make its own judgements but impressed that the Irish government still believe in the Good Friday Agreement and the vision of an “inclusive powersharing Executive”.


- Additional reporting Aoife Barry

Gerry Adams: ‘Sinn Féin has no special responsibility to respond to allegations about the IRA’

Related: McDowell says decision was made to let IRA exist to avoid dissidents filling the void

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