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Northern Irish Unionists to ask PM Cameron to call 'intensive talks'

Reuters , Tuesday 1 Sep 2015
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Northern Ireland's first minister will ask British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday to call intensive talks to save Belfast's power-sharing government that is threatened by a crisis over an IRA-linked murder.

Peter Robinson's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) last week said it wanted its senior partners in government, Sinn Fein, the one-time political wing of the IRA, thrown out after police said a rump of the IRA may have been involved the killing of a former member.

Disagreements over parades, flags and social welfare reform has led to the repeated intervention of the Irish and British governments, co-signatories of a 1998 peace deal, in the last two years and Robinson said all issues now had to be solved.

"I believe that we need a proper intensive talks process to see if those issues can be resolved, because if they are not resolved, there isn't a firm basis to proceed with government," Robinson told Irish broadcaster RTE on Monday.

"Undoubtedly our present set of circumstances are the most dangerous set of circumstances since St. Andrews (the 2006 devolution agreement) and have the potential to bring down the Assembly. That's why walking away isn't an option."

An end to violence by Irish Republican Army (IRA) guerrillas was a central plank of the 1998 Good Friday accord. The deal largely ended three decades of conflict between mostly Catholic nationalists, who favoured unification with the Republic of Ireland, and Protestants wanting to stay in the United Kingdom.

Senior members of Sinn Fein, including politicians who were once members of the IRA, have denied the group still exists. Police say the IRA is still active in some form, though no longer engaged in terrorism.

Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, was also due to meet Ireland's foreign minister Charlie Flanagan and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in Dublin on Tuesday.

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