Belfast Telegraph

Squabbling as parties return

By Noel McAdam

Sinn Fein has warned the DUP and Ulster Unionists are locked in "permanent election mode" as the new Assembly term gets under way today,

Caitriona Ruane, chief whip of the SF Assembly group, said Stormont has been "hamstrung" by the two main unionist parties looking over their shoulders at electoral rivals.

"The Assembly and Executive should be about delivering a better society for all our people. Unfortunately some parties seem to be in permanent election mode and looking over their shoulders at the electoral challenge from the TUV and UKIP and this has hamstrung the ability to get more done," the former Education Minister told the Belfast Telegraph.

SDLP minister Mark H Durkan underpinned the concern. "As we get closer to elections, parties tend to become more entrenched and this can negatively impact on the performance of the Executive and Assembly," he said.

There was no immediate DUP response, but UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said Sinn Fein's stance was "beyond idiotic".

"Brits Out but leave the cheque book is fantasy politics," he said.

And he insisted the extra year given to the Assembly "should never have been added in the first place."

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