Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

DUP's video link claims dismissed

DUP claims that meeting Irish government ministers by video link rather than in person could help protect the environment were dismissed by Sinn Fein today.

Environment Minister Edwin Poots told the Assembly he questioned the need for face to face talks.

But republican representative Daithi McKay said all ministers had to adhere to the commitments to attend cross-border ministerial meetings.

Mr Poots said he had recently held talks with his counterpart in the Republic under the auspices of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC), which was created under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

But the DUP minister added: "There would be considerable benefit, given in particular that we represent the departments of environment, in using technologies and some of the modern communication systems to have discussions.

"I would be very happy to engage in further communications to do these meetings and offer to do that for the next meeting - so we will see if that is taken up."

But Mr McKay said the proposal should not be taken seriously.

"I am sure Edwin Poots is well aware that he and all other Ministers are required to attend and fully participate in the NSMC. This is not optional," he said.

"While the DUPs newly found interest in environmental issues is admirable and to be welcomed, it won't stand up as a credible excuse for not fulfilling his responsibility as a Minister.

"I don't think anyone will be taking too seriously Edwin Poot's indication that he intends to pursue some form of electronic substitution for his attendance at the NSMC."

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