DUP planned to seek Sinn Féin’s expulsion from Executive over police support warning
Robinson concerned unionist vote could be shredded in European elections
DUP leader Peter Robinson: was planning to seek the removal from office of Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and the four senior and junior Sinn Féin Ministers for allegedly being in breach of their ministerial pledge of office. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The DUP would have sought the expulsion of Sinn Féin from the Northern Executive had it not retreated from its position that it would review its support for the PSNI over the arrest of Gerry Adams, First Minister Peter Robinson has said.
At the DUP’s European and local elections manifesto launch in Belfast yesterday, Mr Robinson said he was planning to seek the removal from office of Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and the four senior and junior Sinn Féin ministers for allegedly being in breach of their ministerial pledge of office.
This, he said, was because of Mr McGuinness’s warning last Friday that Sinn Féin might review its support for the PSNI if the situation of Mr Adams, then in custody, was not resolved satisfactorily.
“We would not be slow in bringing forward a motion for their exclusion. Indeed, if Sinn Féin had not corrected their position, the motion would have gone down,” said Mr Robinson at the election manifesto launch.
Mr McGuinness, ahead of Mr Adams’s release on Sunday night, said he supported the police in the North and the Republic. Meanwhile, Mr Adams, on the night of his release from custody where he had been questioned over the murder of Jean McConville, repeated his support for the PSNI.
The Deputy First Minister had complained about an “embittered rump” of officers who transferred from the RUC to the PSNI, and of a police “dark side”, that was opposed to Mr Adams and Sinn Féin.
Backing for PSNI
Mr Robinson said he was pleased that Sinn Féin “made its position clear” in supporting the PSNI, although he believed Mr McGuinness had “not come back from the wrong side of the line”.
“We will give him opportunities in the Assembly and elsewhere to make it very clear that his pledge of office requires him to give full support to the police service. That is every element of the police, not that section of the police service he happens to think is on his side,” he said.
In response, Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy said: “It is clear that there are those within the leadership of the DUP who would love a return to the days of one-party unionist rule. That is simply not going to happen. There is no going back.”
Possible SDLP seat
Meanwhile, at the manifesto launch, Mr Robinson expressed concern that the “shredding” of the unionist vote in the European elections could endanger the chances of unionists holding two of the North’s three seats.
Diane Dodds of the DUP and Jim Nicholson of the Ulster Unionist Party are seeking re-election, while Martina Anderson of Sinn Féin is likely to top the poll and be returned. However, there is an outside possibility that splitting the unionist vote could mean Alex Attwood of the SDLP is elected, with the resultant loss of either Ms Dodds’s or Mr Nicholson’s seat.
With six of the 10 candidates reflecting unionist opinion and just two nationalist, Mr Robinson acknowledged this possibility.
“There is a danger to unionism as a result of the division of the unionist vote,” he said.
“It would be a disaster if as a result of a plethora of unionist candidates standing in the election that our votes were shredded and unionism lost out on representation in Europe,” he added.