The unfolding crisis in Northern Ireland’s government deepened on Thursday as first minister and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Peter Robinson stood down alongside other party ministers.
His decision follows spiralling controversy over the murder of Kevin McGuigan, a former member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.
In a statement delivered to the press, Robinson said:
“The failure of the SDLP [Social Democratic and Labour Party] and Sinn Fein to implement the Stormont House Agreement together with the assessment from the chief constable of the involvement of IRA members in murder, the continued existence of the IRA and the arrests that followed has pushed devolution to the brink.
In light of the decision by republicans, nationalists and the UUP to continue with business as usual in the assembly, I am therefore standing aside as First Minister and other DUP Ministers will resign with immediate effect with the exception of Arlene Foster. I have asked Arlene to remain in post as Finance Minister and acting First Minister to ensure that nationalists and republicans are not able to take financial and other decisions that may be detrimental to Northern Ireland.”