Power-sharing ‘in crisis’ warns Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly

Comments reflect current sour relationship between Sinn Féin and DUP

Senior Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly has described the Stormont administration as being "in crisis".

The North Belfast MLA was speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan Show this morning.

He warned that the relationship between First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was "not workmanlike" and that power-sharing was in serious difficulty.

“We are in a crisis,” he said.


Relations between the two parties have been strained over the summer. The situation further deteriorated when last month Mr Robinson in a letter from his holiday home in Florida withdrew from an agreement with Sinn Féin to establish a peace and reconciliation centre at the Maze.

The situation was further exacerbated due to a Sinn Féin parade in Castlederg, Co Tyrone commemorating two IRA men killed by their own bomb.

Mr Kelly went on the offensive this morning by accusing the DUP of failing to stand up to hardline unionists such as Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister who opposed the Belfast Agreement.

He also contended the DUP was in fear of those who were driving the flags protest. It was a case of “the tail wagging the dog”, he said.

“They are allowing people like Jim Allister and others on the extreme to nearly dictate what their policies are.”

In a clear reference to Mr Robinson he complained of a DUP “lack of leadership”.

He said Sinn Féin stood by the agreement and “don’t run away” from its opponents within republicanism.

“We are in partnership government. That hasn’t been manifested, especially in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM), and in the relationship between the First and Deputy First Ministers,” added Mr Kelly.

“The government works on the basis of power sharing, that has to be a leadership of power sharing, everything in that office has to be by consensus.”

Mr Kelly also posted a tweet this morning about the escape of 38 republican prisoners from the Maze 30 years ago today.

“Happy 30th anniversary of the Great Escape 1983 from Long Kesh H Blocks to all those involved,” he wrote.

This is also likely to increase the current sour political mood between the DUP and Sinn Féin as unionists will view this as deliberately provocative. One prison officer died of a heart attack while another officer who tried to prevent the escape was shot in the head by Mr Kelly. The officer survived.

The DUP MLA Gregory Campbell accused Sinn Féin of talking up a crisis. "Sinn Féin seem to want to have a republican agenda going on at the heart of what they want and if they don't get what they want then they throw everything out of the pram," he said.

“Well that’s not going to happen. If they want to talk up a crisis that’s a matter for them,” he added.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times