BREAKING: Ulster Unionists to withdraw from Stormont executive after IRA revelations

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt

The Ulster Unionists have announced their intent to resign from Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive and form an opposition over claims the Provisional IRA still exists.

While the move by the UUP, a minor partner in the five-party mandatory coalition, will not automatically trigger the collapse of the administration it does throw its future into serious doubt, as pressure will now mount on the region's largest party, the Democratic Unionists, to follow suit.

The move comes in the wake of an assessment by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) that structures of the supposedly defunct paramilitary organisation are still operating, and some of its members were involved in the murder of Belfast father-of-nine Kevin McGuigan two weeks ago.

The UUP's executive is to meet on Saturday to endorse the party leadership's decision.

Party leader Mike Nesbitt said: "That decision is to withdraw from the Northern Ireland Executive, to form an Opposition and offer people an alternative, as is the way in any proper democracy.

"We are in a bad place but this can be fixed.

"But the IRA need to go away and stop terrorising their own communities."

However Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said the decision is more to do with rivalry within Unionism than recent statements made surrounding the McGuigan murder. 

TUV MLA Jim Allister tweeted: