Northern Ireland news

UUP votes to withdraw from executive

The UUP had voted to withdraw from the Northern Ireland executive

Senior members of the Ulster Unionist Party have voted to withdraw from Northern Ireland's power-sharing government over claims the Provisional IRA (PIRA) still exists.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt proposed the exit in response to a police assessment that structures of the supposedly defunct paramilitary organisation remain in place and some of its members were involved in the murder of Kevin McGuigan.

The UUP's ruling executive approved Mr Nesbitt's recommendation at a meeting in an east Belfast hotel.

Mr Nesbitt has said the revelations about the IRA have shattered trust in Sinn Fein and the UUP can no longer work in coalition with the republican party.

The vote involving around 90 members of the party's ruling body was unanimous in favour of a Stormont Executive walkout.

"The Ulster Unionist Party will be leaving the Northern Ireland Executive next week," Mr Nesbitt announced after the 90 minute meeting at the Park Avenue Hotel.

"This decision was unanimous."

Mr Nesbitt said Danny Kennedy, the UUP's one minister in a five-party administration comprising 13 ministers and two junior ministers, will formally resign next week.

The party said it will now form an "opposition" in the Assembly - even though the power-sharing structures do not afford recognition for an official opposition to the mandatory coalition government.

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