Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 13:11 UK

Republicans 'crucial to arrests'

Peter Robinson
The First Minister welcomed the information from republican areas

Information from the republican community played a key role in the arrests over recent killings, the First Minister said on Tuesday.

Peter Robinson said the police had told him the quality of information from republican areas had been very helpful.

Mr Robinson said it was evidence of a 'transformed situation.'

Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey were shot dead on March 7. Constable Stephen Carroll was killed two days later.

Mr Robinson added that Sinn Fein's condemnation of the killings had been brought about after years of negotiations.

"Recent events also demonstrate why the DUP was right to insist on republican support for the police and the rule of law for those who would be ministers in a Northern Ireland administration before the institutions were re-established," he said.

"This was crucial in building institutions which could withstand the challenges of the last few weeks. In the long run this has helped the whole community in Northern Ireland."

In the wake of Constable Carroll's murder Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness described dissident republicans as "traitors" who had "betrayed the people of Ireland."

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