COWARDICE & HYPOCRISY; DUP brand Nesbitt walkout of Stormont a 'party political stunt'.
Byline: CHRIS KILPATRICK
THE DUP last night launched a stinging attack on the Ulster Unionist Party accusing its leadership of cowardice and hypocrisy.
The UUP is set to resign from the Stormont Executive next week, claiming PSNI revelations about Provisional IRA involvement in the murder of Kevin McGuigan have shattered trust in Sinn Fein.
Ex-IRA man and father-of-nine Kevin McGuigan, 53, was gunned down in the Short Strand area of Belfast in mid-August.
The assessment was made by PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, with the fallout from the killing plunging Stormont into its latest crisis.
The DUP's Sammy Wilson last night claimed the Ulster Unionists' "mask has slipped" and branded its withdrawal from the Executive "a selfish partypolitical stunt".
The DUP has called for the exclusion of Sinn Fein from the Executive.
And last night Mr Wilson fired a volley at the Ulster Unionist's decision to pull out.
He said: "In the last 48 hours the mask has slipped. During numerous interviews one UUP spokesman after another has had their inconsistencies exposed. They have been incapable of dodging the reality that their actions fail to punish Sinn Fein.
"With no other sensible rationale, the UUP has resorted to one attack after another on the DUP proving that this is nothing more than a selfish party political stunt."
A PSNI assessment that not only were PIRA members involved in the McGuigan murder but structures of the supposedly defunct organisation still exist, is threatening to engulf the power-sharing government.
The DUP said the assessment by Mr Hamilton is of sufficient strength to force the exclusion of Sinn Fein from the coalition.
Mr Wilson added: "The UUP walking out of the Executive has no impact on the continuance of devolution and has even less impact on Sinn Fein.
"Indeed, I would challenge Mike Nesbitt to explain how his party's tactic puts any pressure on republicans.
"The UUP's decision to leave government is cowardly rather than courageous and self-serving rather than selfless. It is premature and opportunistic.
"Our decision to enter government was based on proper security assessments rather than the words of Sinn Fein. Whilst the UUP is focused on positioning itself for an election the DUP is focused on punishing republicans. We will not allow any fudging of this issue.
"We will be meeting the Prime Minister and emphasising that there is no place in government for anyone not committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means."
Sinn Fein, which rejects the claim the Provisional IRA still exists, has accused the UUP of contriving a crisis in a bid to outflank the DUP ahead of next year's Assembly poll.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tweeted: "Ulster Unionists are attempting to spook the DUP into collapsing the GFA institutions for purely electoral gain. #Its-AboutElections-Stupid."
The UUP walking out of Stormont has no impact on Sinn Fein SAMMY WILSON YESTERDAY
M06 CAPTION ANGRY Sammy WILSON
REVELATIONS UUP will pull out of the Executive next week