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Fleeting Stormont meeting which ended in a bust-up

The following is a transcript from the meeting between senior Ulster Unionists and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness that ended in a bust-up.

Apart from the senior Sinn Fein figure, two other Executive Ministers — Sir Reg Empey and Michael McGimpsey — were present.

They were accompanied at the meeting by their Ulster Unionist colleagues Danny Kennedy, deputy Assembly leader, and chief whip Fred Cobain.

Special advisers to both parties were also present for the encounter that began at 4pm:

Mr McGuinness: “Where are we at?”

Mr Kennedy: “You told us that we had three days to sort ourselves out!”

Mr McGimpsey: “Well, those were my comments.”

Sir Reg Empey: “We submitted a paper last week highlighting our concerns about the Executive — have you an update?

Mr McGuinness: “I can tell you that following receipt of your paper there is no agreed response from the other side (Peter Robinson, First Minister).

“I have to say that I believe you have dug a hole for yourselves and that you are continuing to dig a hole.

“From Sinn Fein’s perspective there is considerable frustration about how the UUP have performed and operated since the institutions began.

“And when I listen to UUP people like Ken Maginnis and Basil McCrea, I think you are turning into an anti-Agreement party.

Mr McGimpsey: “That’s nonsense Martin given that we wrote the Agreement.”

Mr McGuiness: “And we were not there?”

Mr McGimpsey: “Of course you were there but what I am saying is that we were the ones who brought us to where we are today.”

Mr McGuinness: “And things have changed since those days. The constant complaints from the UUP about the dysfunctionality of the Executive — it’s hurting everyone.”

Mr Cobain: “Martin, we are not here to be lectured.”

Mr McGuinness: “Well that’s all right then — get out.”

And so they did. Meeting ended at 16.03.

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