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Jeffrey Donaldson: Little-Pengelly ‘determined’ to ensure political stability

  • By Jayne McCormack
  • BBC News NI political correspondent

Image source, Liam McBurney/PA Media

Legend,

Emma Little-Pengelly said she was “deeply shocked and devastated” by the allegations.

Northern Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister, Emma Little-Pengelly, has said she is “determined” to ensure political stability in the days to come.

Sir Jeffrey resigned from his post after being accused of rape and other historical sex offenses on Thursday.

He said he would vigorously contest the accusations.

In a statement posted on Facebook on Saturday, she said she was “deeply shocked and devastated” by the allegations.

Ms Little-Pengelly became deputy first minister in February after the DUP ended its power-sharing boycott.

In her statement, she said she would work closely with Gavin Robinson as interim leader of the DUP to “continue the work to tackle the big issues facing Northern Ireland”.

She added that her thoughts were with those “who have put their trust” in the criminal justice system.

His remarks echo those of Mr Robinson who sent an internal newsletter to all DUP members on Saturday morning.

Legend,

Gavin Robinson was unanimously named interim leader of the DUP by party leaders on Friday.

In the memo, Mr. Robinson said police departments and courts “must be allowed to conduct their proceedings without interference.”

“Nothing we say or do should in any way compromise this process,” he wrote.

“There will be some who try to score cheap political points, but I know my colleagues and friends across Northern Ireland will ignore the noise and focus on what really matters.”

Analysis

This is certainly not the Easter weekend that anyone in Northern Ireland politics saw coming.

Just over 24 hours after the bombshell exploded, we are now seeing a drip-feeding response from some of the DUP’s most senior members.

It is no coincidence that much of Emma Little-Pengelly’s statement mirrors – and in some parts verbatim – Gavin Robinson’s response.

The party’s acting leader and deputy prime minister – both close confidants of Sir Jeffrey – have a huge and unexpected challenge on their hands.

Gavin Robinson’s only interview with a broadcaster yesterday was followed today by a memo to all DUP members in a bid to reassure the party and keep everyone in the loop.

As in a crisis management situation as serious and legally sensitive as this, the DUP will want to maintain control of the narrative in the days to come.

So far, there are no signs of division within party ranks.

By carefully managing media appearances and statements, the DUP hopes to keep it that way, mindful of the electoral hurdles that lie ahead.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has issued a statement in response to comments on social media following Sir Jeffrey’s resignation yesterday.

The PSNI statement did not name the former DUP leader, but police said they were “aware of ongoing comments on social media platforms” following the arrest and charges of a 61-year-old man in connection with non-recent sexual offenses.

He then reminds social media users and editors that “in investigations of this type, the law grants victims complete anonymity, unless they choose to waive it themselves.”

“The publication of any information likely to lead to the identification of the victims constitutes a criminal offense and may be investigated accordingly,” the text specifies.

Legend,

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson was accused of rape and other historical sexual offenses

Mr Robinson added that the DUP “is not about any one individual”.

“We are a party made up of MPs, MPs, councilors and dozens of dedicated members across all regions of Northern Ireland.

“We exist to build a better and stronger Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.”

DUP party leaders met on Friday and appointed Mr Robinson as interim leader.

In a statement, it was said that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson had confirmed that he had been accused of historical allegations and was resigning as leader of the DUP.

Party leaders suspended Mr Donaldson from his membership, pending the outcome of legal proceedings.

Sir Jeffrey’s letter to the DUP said he would vigorously contest the accusations.

A 57-year-old woman has also been charged with complicity in relation to the alleged offences.

They were both arrested on Thursday morning by PSNI detectives and questioned before being charged on Thursday evening.

He and the 57-year-old woman are due in court next month.

News Source : www.bbc.com
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