Empey hits out at Sinn Fein and DUP rule
A leading Ulster Unionist has accused the DUP and Sinn Fein of running Northern Ireland's political institutions "into the ground with a combination of political selfishness and cronyism".
UUP chairman Lord Empey was speaking ahead of round-table talks due to take place today.
Lord Empey said: "When devolution was re-established in 1998 there was an atmosphere of hope and expectation that after 30 years of a terrorist murder campaign, work would begin on building a new society, free from the shadow of the gunman and an opportunity to rebuild our economy, shattered as it was after the Troubles."
He said while there had been progress and an absence of widespread bombings and shootings, the hope generated in 1998 has been replaced with "disillusionment and despair."
Lord Empey, a former leader of the his party and MLA for East Belfast, added: "The behaviour of Sinn Fein following the Stormont House Agreement of last year has been outrageous and entirely driven by political self-interest for their ambitions in Dublin, and despite taking the finance ministry and allowing Sinn Fein to retake the education department, DUP finance ministers have spectacularly failed in their duty of stewardship."
Lord Empey said the DUP/Sinn Fein "experiment has failed" because the "genuine partnership negotiated into the Belfast Agreement was swept aside in 2006, and now we are reaping the whirlwind of that ill-thought-out idea."