DUP's Arlene Foster says 'in-out' policy could end after IRA report

Acting First Minister Arlene Foster and sometime health minister Simon Hamilton at Stormont. Picture by Mal McCann
Brendan Hughes

ACTING First Minister Arlene Foster has said the DUP could end its 'in-out' minister policy when a report on paramilitary activity is published next week.

Over the past month the DUP has been keeping its ministers in office for only a few hours each week to avoid their portfolios going to rival parties.

The move is in response to a political fall-out over the murder of ex-IRA man Kevin McGuigan.

Ms Foster is the only unionist minister remaining in the executive after the PSNI said members of the Provisional IRA may have been involved in the fatal shooting.

She is standing in for Peter Robinson after he stood aside as first minister and other DUP ministers resigned.

DUP leader Mr Robinson had warned that it would not be "business as usual" at Stormont until the issue of paramilitaries was addressed.

Last month the British government appointed an independent panel to assess the status of paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland.

Speaking on BBC's The View, Ms Foster said the DUP would consider ending its in-out policy after viewing the report.

"We will look at the panel's report. If we believe there has been substantial progress in relation to it, then we will seriously consider making that move," she said.

The DUP has faced mounting pressure over its in-out policy after The Irish News revealed ministers were receiving wages despite party claims they wouldn't be paid.

On Wednesday The Irish News revealed DUP ministers were being paid for the period worked between their reappointment and resignation.

Health minister Simon Hamilton later said the party was making arrangements with the assembly to return the money and prevent further payments being made to ministers.


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