Northern Ireland assembly leader resigns, deepening crisis


– Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Peter Robinson resigned Thursday as head of Northern Ireland’s devolved government, deepening a political crisis in the territory.

Robinson had threatened to resign Wednesday unless the regional assembly was adjourned or suspended pending an investigation of
the continuing existence of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its links to the Irish nationalist political party Sinn Fein.

His resignation, accompanied by other DUP ministers, followed the assembly’s vote earlier Thursday against a DUP motion to adjourn it to allow talks on the crisis.

“The [British] government can still legislate to suspend the assembly and allow space for the parties to negotiate,” Robinson said in his resignation speech.

Prime Minister David Cameron had appealed to all sides to stick to the “noble principles” of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing agreement and resolve the crisis through talks backed by the British and Irish governments.

The crisis had worsened Wednesday after police said a well-known
member of Sinn Fein was among three IRA-linked suspects detained in connection with last month’s slaying of Kevin McGuigan, a former IRA hitman.

But Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams on Thursday accused the DUP of exploiting the police investigation, saying the party was using the issue in a struggle with the rival Ulster Unionist Party.