David Cameron denies talk of Stormont powersharing crisis
British prime minister says Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness ‘working well together’
David Cameron speaking yesterday during a visit to the Bombardier Aerospace factory in Belfast. He was in the city to address an international investment conference photograph: paul faith/pa
British prime minister David Cameron has acknowledged the current political differences between Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness but has insisted there is no powersharing crisis at Stormont.
Mr Cameron also condemned the activities of dissident republicans.
He travelled to Belfast yesterday to address a major international investment conference. Mr Cameron urged potential investors to “put your money in Northern Ireland and be part of this incredible success story”.
He later referred to the tensions between Sinn Féin and the DUP over First Minister Peter Robinson’s decision to withdraw support for the peace and reconciliation centre at the Maze prison site.
Senior Sinn Féin politicians, including party president Gerry Adams, have characterised the situation as a “crisis”. “The First Minister and Deputy First Minister are working well together,” Mr Cameron told The Irish Times after he, Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness addressed the investment conference in the Titanic Belfast visitor centre.
“Of course there are challenges, of course there are difficulties, but they are both committed to taking Northern Ireland forward and I have just seen that in a very visible way – them both speaking from the same hymn sheet, as it were, about attracting business to Northern Ireland.”
‘Language of crisis‘
“So I don’t accept the language of crisis,” he added. He returned to the issue after holding afternoon talks with Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness at Stormont Castle in the company of Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers.
“Coalition government is difficult because you have to try and reach agreement and you can’t always achieve those agreements,” he told reporters outside the castle.
“But because you don’t achieve an agreement on every occasion doesn’t mean you give up: it means you press forward and you keep working together, and that is the spirit I see in Peter and Martin.”
Mr Robinson also played down suggestions of political crisis. “There is no likelihood of our administration falling apart,” he said.
“We have difficulties, big difficulties, but we will do what we always do: we will continue to talk; we will be involved in dialogue until we resolve the outstanding issues.”
Mr McGuinness made no direct reference to the current DUP-Sinn Féin tensions or whether they would be resolved, instead focusing on the jobs opportunities presented by the conference and predicting that the actions of dissident republicans or of the UVF in Belfast would not deter potential investors.
“We can give no quarter to these people. We have to stand solid, firm and together, sending a very clear message that our community wants no more of this activity,” he said. Mr Cameron described the killings of Kevin Kearney in Belfast and of Barry McGrory in Derry as “despicable”. But he said he did not view the murders as having overshadowed the conference.
‘The big picture’
“I think we do need to look at the big picture here in Northern Ireland which is that there is a tiny minority who want to take the country back.
“The overwhelming majority want to take it forward with the shared future agenda,” he said.
He said he believed current and potential international investors see Northern Ireland as a safe place.