Northern Ireland

DUP 'would have moved to exclude Sinn Féin' over policing row

Peter Robinson Image copyright Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker
Image caption DUP leader Peter Robinson called on Martin McGuinness to clarify his views on policing after the Sinn Féin MLA made allegations about some senior police officers over Gerry Adams' arrest

Northern Ireland's first minister has said his party would have tried to exclude Sinn Féin from government if it had not "corrected" its support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin had criticised police over the arrest of their party leader Gerry Adams and hinted they would review their support if he was charged.

Gerry Adams was questioned over a 1972 murder but released without charge.

Following his release, Mr Adams said he still supported the PSNI.

'Pledge of office'

Mr Robinson, who leads the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said if Sinn Féin had withdrawn its support, his party would have brought an exclusion motion before the assembly.

"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," he said.

Any motion to exclude Sinn Féin would require cross-party support.

Mr Robinson also questioned whether the deputy first minister, Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness, had breached his pledge of office, which requires support for the police.

On Friday, while Mr Adams was still in custody, Mr McGuinness hinted that Sinn Féin might look again at whether it would continue to support the PSNI.

Image caption Last week, Martin McGuinness said there was a "dark side" within the Police Service of Northern Ireland after detectives arrested his party leader Gerry Adams over a 1972 murder

The party claimed the arrest was politically motivated and deliberately timed in order to influence the outcome of elections in three weeks' time.

'Dark side'

The DUP leader called on Mr McGuinness to clarify his views after the Sinn Féin MLA made allegations about some senior police officers.

Mr McGuinness had said his party leader's detention was due to a "dark side" within the PSNI, which was conspiring with enemies of the peace process.

Both Prime Minister David Cameron and the PSNI denied that there was any political interference in the murder investigation.

Mr Adams was questioned over five days about the murder of Jean McConville.

The Belfast mother-of-10 was abducted, killed and secretly buried by the IRA in 1972.

The Sinn Féin leader, who has always denied involvement in the murder, was released without charge on Sunday evening and a file is being sent to the Public Prosecution Service.

Mr Robinson said he was seeking a meeting with Northern Ireland's Chief Constable Matt Baggott following reports that Mr Adams is unlikely to be charged.

The first minister also said he intended to meet with members of Jean McConville's family after her son, Michael, indicated he would welcome such a meeting.

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