Collapse of institutions inevitable if Assembly not adjourned - Kenny

Taoiseach says NI institutions at crisis point, with fresh Assembly elections a possibility

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: “This is a very serious day in respect of the Northern Ireland situation and the continuation of the Executive and the Assembly. The time for ambiguity has now passed.” File photograph: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: “This is a very serious day in respect of the Northern Ireland situation and the continuation of the Executive and the Assembly. The time for ambiguity has now passed.” File photograph: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the collapse of the Northern Ireland institutions is inevitable if the Assembly is not adjourned to deal with the political crisis.

Speaking at the opening of the Fine Gael parliamentary party think-in in Adare, Co Limerick, Mr Kenny said the Northern institutions are at “crisis point”, with fresh Assembly elections a possibility.

However, Mr Kenny made his comments before the SDLP announced it would not support a DUP proposal to adjourn the Assembly, as the Taoiseach had hoped for.

“The situation is in crisis mode at the moment,” Mr Kenny said. “My hope would be you could still have an adjournment during which short period you possibly could have a number of other issues brought to the table that might influence where we are headed for the future, otherwise collapse is inevitable and elections to follow.”

Mr Kenny and some of his Ministers had met with the SDLP in Dublin this morning and urged them to support the DUP’s moves for an adjournment. Sinn Féin and the Ulster Unionist Party have already said they will oppose an adjournment.

‘Very serious day’

“This is a very serious day in respect of the Northern Ireland situation and the continuation of the Executive and the Assembly. The time for ambiguity has now passed,” he said.

“It’s the responsibility of those politicians who are elected to make the decisions that will allow for the Executive and the Assembly and the normal affairs of Northern Ireland to continue.

“Yesterday I spoke to Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister. I pointed out that Sinn Féin have a responsibility here as well, as do all the parties - and that voting against an adjournment is not the thing to do.”

Responsibility

Mr Kenny said he told British prime minister David Cameron the Irish Government will not support the suspension of the Northern institutions. “I said we would not support the suspension of the institutions - that this is not the way to go but that all parties in Northern Ireland have a responsibility in this matter.

“We had a very real engagement with Alastair McDonnell and members of the SDLP, who have an opportunity to make a decision as to whether they would agree to an adjournment of the Assembly in order to see what other issues can be brought to the table here,” he added.

“The SDLP did make one point about a possible more enhanced intervention from the United States, in terms of Gary Hart being appointed by the American administration.”

However, Mr Kenny said US involvement is a matter for future discussion.

Under current rules, elections would have to be held within six weeks and a new First Minister and Deputy First Minister appointed a fortnight after suspension.

However, the DUP is pressing the London government to pass legislation which would allow for an open ended suspension of the Assembly.