Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Robinson warned ‘do not play into hands of Allister’

Martin McGuinness has warned Peter Robinson against “playing into the hands” of hardline unionist Jim Allister.

The deputy First Minister insisted it would be a “fundamental mistake” for the DUP to shift onto the ground of the Traditional Unionist Voice, which wants to stymie the Assembly and Executive.

Speaking at the Labour Party conference in Brighton Mr McGuinness said it had been a “serious mistake” for the First Minister to attempt to overturn the present cross-community voting system in the Assembly with a 65% weighted majority.

And he asked whether DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds' call for the abolition of the Equality and Human Rights Commissions and the axe to fall on North/South bodies was “playing to the audience”.

“I think it plays into the hands of the Allister camp which in my view (would be a) fundamental mistake,” Mr McGuinness said.

The senior republican was asked questions at the Champ Ulster Fry event which is now in its 10th year.

As he spoke attempts were on-going in the background to arrange further talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown to negotiate a final financial package to underpin the transfer of policing and justice powers to Stormont.

Mr McGuinness said he believes the next meeting, which now looks likely next week, will be “critical”.

But he said he had been encouraged by the remarks of Mr Robinson in New York, where they met Mr Brown last week, and believed the DUP leader would pro-actively campaign for the switch of powers to happen.

Mr McGuinness was also questioned by Terry Spence, chairman of the Police Federation which represents 8,000 PSNI officers, who asked whether a new department of policing and justice would get the resources to meet the threat of dissident republicans “head on”.

The deputy FM said he believed a further meeting with Mr Brown would show whether the funding situation was being addressed “one way or the other.

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