Northern Ireland

Peter Robinson 'not stepping down' as DUP leader

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Media captionMr Robinson challenged Sinn Féin to prove the Maze peace centre won't be a shrine to terrorism

First Minister Peter Robinson has said he is not stepping down as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.

Mr Robinson said he intended to lead his party throughout the forthcoming European, Westminster and Stormont elections.

He was speaking at the start of a visit to New York with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Mr Robinson told the BBC: "I have full support within the party. No-one has approached me and asked me to go."

He added: "There is overwhelming support among the senior members of the party.

"I'm in as strong a position as I ever have been. The Democratic Unionist Party is a party unlike any others, in terms of the loyalty that they give their leadership, and that continues to be the case."

It is the first meeting between Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness since a letter regarding the proposed Maze Peace Centre.

In a letter to his party, the DUP leader said the centre should not proceed without consensus.

Earlier, Mr Robinson told the Belfast Telegraph that the Maze decision was a sensible act and not a U-turn.

Over the course of the next few days, the Northern Ireland leaders are also due to hold talks with outgoing New York mayor Michael Bloomberg at City Hall.


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Media captionMartin McGuinness said he and Peter Robinson would have to find a way to carry on working together

On Wednesday, Mr McGuinness and Mr Robinson will meet US diplomat and former special envoy to Northern Ireland Richard Haass at the Council on Foreign Relations building.

Dr Haass is to arrive in Belfast later in September to chair all-party talks set up to deal with some of the most divisive issues confronting Northern Ireland.

On Thursday, the first minister and deputy first minister will also visit New York Yacht Club for the annual Wall Street 50 awards. The event recognizes the accomplishments of Irish-American and Irish-born leaders of the financial industry.

Mr Robinson said: "We will take every opportunity in New York to promote Northern Ireland as an excellent location for new investors, before the investment conference next month.

"The purpose of the conference is to showcase Northern Ireland and explore the world-class opportunities that we offer.

"It will be a superb platform for making an international pitch and our message will be loud and clear - Northern Ireland is a great place in which to invest and to grow your business.

"I also welcome the opportunity to meet with Dr Haass whilst in New York before the start of next week's meetings with executive parties."

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