Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Robinson is just a 'grumpy uncle': Hanna

Finance Minister Peter Robinson was last night labelled a "grumpy uncle" after attacking politicians on the Assembly's Public Accounts Committee for seeking easy publicity.

The DUP deputy leader warned MLAs who go for "easy headlines" could undermine innovation and necessary risk-taking in the world of business.

The East Belfast MP also hit out at journalists who fail to take account of the implications of their articles for the Northern Ireland economy.

But former Executive Minister Carmel Hanna said Mr Robinson was "making himself looking ridiculous" and Assembly members had a duty to hold the Stormont administration to account.

The South Belfast MLA said Mr Robinson needed reminding that the mandate of the other 107 Assembly members are as valid as his own and called for " more, not less" investigative journalism. In a speech to business leaders last week, Mr Robinson criticised MLAs, especially those on the Public Accounts Committee as well as journalists for seeking "easy headlines" and being irresponsible by failing "to take account of the implications of their articles".

He said: "Too often elected members have become more interested in easy press coverage for themselves than they have been in better administration in Nortehrn Ireland."

Mrs Hanna said, however: "Never the sunniest of characters, Robinson is making himself look ridiculous by criticising his fellow politicians and journalists. He is sounding like a grumpy uncle.

"Peter Robinson needs to remember than there are 107 other MLAs who have as valid a mandate as he has. It is MLAs' duty to hold the administration to account, especially when taxpayers' money is involved and it is journalists' responsibility to dig deep, especially when they find stories about the squandering of public funds. As it is, there is far too little investigative journalism in Northern Ireland. We need more, not less, of it."

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