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'Big two' want to bend ministers to their will

Published 10/10/2011

The moment of truth has arrived. Will the non-Sinn Fein/DUP ministers in the Executive exert their authority, or be cowed by bullies?

Clearly, over the summer, without consultation, Sinn Fein and the DUP cobbled together a Programme for Government to be foisted on the others.

Messrs Robinson and O'Dowd/ McGuinness believe they can force a minister to implement their will. For example, the First Minister and the acting deputy First Minister believe they can dictate the shape of local government reform.

But, due to the failure of St Andrews and the weakness of our current system, Peter Robinson and his acting colleague are powerless to deliver change in local government because they can't direct or control any minister.

Alex Attwood alone should determine the proposals for the reform of local government. Why would he accept the Sinn Fein/ DUP proposals and not promote his own party's proposals?

I do feel for Peter Robinson and his political impotency in this matter. Clearly the Programme for Government should be agreed with and by the First and deputy First Ministers, but in our system that is not necessary.

This is why the likes of the Programme for Government should have been agreed before ministerial offices were handed out. This didn't happen and now we face another stand-off.

For the good of democracy, Alex Attwood must win - even if the policy he suggests is wrong, a minister must be able to direct his own policy, in his own department, unless we want a dictatorship, rather than a coalition.

ULTONIAN

Portadown, Co Armagh

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