THE NORTH of Ireland’s largest political party failed to show up at crunch talks today, aimed at averting a collapse of the Stormont government.
Talks were to resume today in Belfast after the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson stepped down last week.
But there were no DUP members at the start of today's Assembly meeting.
Mr Robinson's effective resignation came on the same day that a senior Sinn Féin member, Bobby Storey, was arrested in connection with the murder of Kevin McGuigan in Belfast last month.
Mr McGuigan, a former member of the IRA, was gunned down near his home on August 12.
Those who remained in the chambers of Stormont today criticised the party for its no-show.
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader Mike Nesbitt said: “What we are delivering is broken and it needs to be fixed. We have to return to values and the key value is credibility.”
A senior PSNI ruffled feathers by suggesting Mr McGuigan’s murder may have been a “revenge killing” carried out by the Provisional IRA for his alleged part in the shooting of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison in May.
But Chief Constable of the PSNI George Hamilton issued a statement saying there was “no information to suggest” this was the case.
Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers today convened “intense cross party talks”, as the political crisis reaches a new apex.
But hopes at an early reconciliation were dashed when the DUP failed to show up.
The party currently has just one minister in government – Finance Minister Arlene Foster who is acting as interim First Minister.
If all ministers had been pulled from Government, the Northern Ireland Executive would collapse, which would bring next May’s elections forward to this month.
The parties have until Thursday to reach a deal – as this will be seven days since Mr Robinson’s resignation.
If a deal is not struck, NIE elections will be forced to take place.