Downey case collapse may become a resigning matter – Peter Robinson demands judicial inquiry

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Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson has threatened to resign unless there is a judicial inquiry into secret letters given to more than 180 paramilitary suspects.

The DUP leader said he was not prepared to remain as first minister in a power-sharing administration that is being kept in the dark about such an important matter.

Mr Robinson said he would discuss this with the Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers at a meeting later.

This is a risky game of brinkmanship. [Ed – Though in an election year, that’s the only play available.] The timeline of who-knew-what-and-when is still unravelling. The number of stakeholders upset involves Labour and Conservative ministers and advisers, the NIO, the CPS, the PSNI and police staff bodies, Sinn Fein and those who were On the Run, victims and their families, as well as the other NI parties. A lot of stories to tell about just how ‘secret’ the OTR process really was.

If the then DUP leader Ian Paisley was aware, will the deputy leader and now First Minister have to claim he – and the rest of the party – was kept in the dark, when journalists were aware of the discussions?

Nigel Dodds MP started the DUP devolution-wrecking ball rolling in Westminster and was followed by Gregory Campbell who said:

If we had been sitting across the table discussing the possibility of a new system of government and someone had said: ‘By the way, here is an essential ingredient without which no deal can be done,’ then we would have said, ‘Then no deal can be done’.

This of course contradicts Jonathan Powell’s mémoire.

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Mr Robinson insists that he will resign if a full inquiry into the situation is not granted – adding that, if his party known about the immunity deals, they would not be in government today.

Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology and the occasional rant about life. On Slugger, the posts will mainly be about political events and processes. Tweets as @alaninbelfast.

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