Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Editor's Viewpoint: Robinson's job is only just beginning

While he can sometimes be a little thin-skinned when it comes to criticism, there is no doubt Peter Robinson has all the bearing of a First Minister and of a senior politician with a clear agenda for the future in his mind.

In his interview in this newspaper today, he sets out the sort of changes he would like in society here, but equally makes it clear that progress can be slower than many people wish because of the nature of the power-sharing administration where everyone has to buy into any deal.

Of course some of his comments are aimed at his party constituency ahead of this weekend's annual conference and naturally he will want to paint the most positive picture possible of how the DUP is performing and how some of its plans are being thwarted by others - somewhat surprisingly he is particularly scathing of the smallest coalition member, the Alliance Party. But none of that should disguise the fact that several of his projects are still awaiting delivery.

He reveals that it will be 2016 at the earliest before powers to change the rate of corporation tax could be devolved to Stormont.

That begs the question - is there a Plan B given the perilous state of the economy and the need to provide some greater stimulus than the £200m initiative announced recently, welcome though it was? Also his vision of integrated education has, if not run into the sand, progressed very little. He also says that the shared future strategy document is largely written and now only needs to be underwritten by the smaller parties. It surely underpins everything else.

He is a man who feels there is still a job to be done and he wants to stay in position to do it. He also speaks in a more considered way than some of his fellow party members on issues like abortion and the Parades Commission, although he has shown little signs of censuring those who have made intemperate remarks. He has to be congratulated on the achievements to date, but ultimately he will be judged on how effective he is in getting the rest of his stated agenda through.

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