Politics

Police in Northern Ireland have said they received a complaint that led to the arrest of former DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson over allegations of historical sexual offences in early March.

Donaldson resigned over the allegations on Friday. It is understood he will be “strenuously contesting” all charges against him.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) released a statement to end “unhelpful speculation” about the case. The force said it “immediately commenced an investigation into this matter” after receiving the complaint.

Donaldson was arrested and charged on Thursday 28 March. A 57-year-old woman was also charged with aiding and abetting offences in relation to the same complaint.

“We are again reminding members of the public and media outlets that speculation is unhelpful and in this case inaccurate and may ultimately have a negative impact on a criminal justice process,” the force said on Sunday.

Donaldson led the Democratic Unionist Party since 2021 and has been the MP for Lagan Valley since 1997.

The 61-year-old will appear in court in Newry, Co Down, on 24 April.

He has been suspended by the party but it is understood he remains an MP.

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First minister on ‘difficult’ time for DUP

On Saturday, First Minister Michelle O’Neill said there is no threat to Northern Ireland’s power-sharing agreement amid the political fallout.

Sinn Fein vice president Ms O’Neill told Sky News she has approached the leaders of the three other parties in the ministerial executive in Belfast to ensure “cohesion”.

The deal that restored power sharing earlier this year hinged on the backing of Donaldson.

Read more:
Who is Sir Jeffrey Donaldson?

What is power sharing and why is the system used?

Ms O’Neill said on Sunday: “Now more than ever, what we need to see is cohesion.”

The first minister added in Dublin: “My priority as first minister is to provide that stability, to work with all the other party leaders, all those who form our executive.

“It’s really, really important now that we knuckle down.”

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