Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson today said there will be “no further” meetings of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing executive until the political crisis over the IRA is resolved.
Mr Robinson said: “Pending a satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues, business will not be as usual. As a first step there will be no further meetings of the Northern Ireland Executive unless we deem that there are exceptional circumstances.
“In addition, there will be no North/South ministerial meetings in any of its formats (between ministers in Belfast and Dublin).
“Our ministers shall be focused on the talks process.”
Crisis talks led by the British and Irish governments are due to begin at Stormont on Tuesday.
Politicians are due to debate a Sinn Fein motion later condemning the murders of former IRA members Jock Davison and Kevin McGuigan and calling on anyone with information to pass it on to the police.
Police have insisted the IRA is not back on a war footing but the disclosure that the organisation still exists has rocked an already badly-divided political establishment.
The British Government has decided to legislate on welfare reform in Northern Ireland if the Stormont parties cannot reach agreement.
The Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein have been at loggerheads over the issue for months and the devolved administration in Belfast has been plunged in to financial peril.
The talks are planned for this week at Stormont House with Secretary of State Theresa Villiers representing London and Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, Dublin.
Mr Robinson added: “If we are not satisfied that the parties are applying themselves to achieving an outcome in a reasonable timeframe we will initiate a further step or further steps. If it becomes apparent to us that a satisfactory resolution in the talks is not possible then as a last resort ministerial resignations will follow.
“However, we must make it clear that any election which follows such an eventuality will not be an election to return to the present Assembly arrangements as we will not nominate a First Minister until a fundamental and more wide-ranging negotiation produces a system that can fully function.”
Branding the Assembly “not fit for purpose” Mr Robinson said the DUP would continue to push for an adjournment but his ministers would take part in Question Time “on this occasion”.
He added: “In my view the Assembly is not fit for purpose as it stands today.
“Leaving aside the issue of the Kevin McGuigan murder it still wasn’t fit for purpose. So, those issues have to be resolved.
“Unless those issues are resolved we will not have a functioning Assembly and we made it very clear without a resolution to these matters in the talks process our ministers’ resignations will follow.”