Belfast Telegraph

Flurry of reaction to First Minister Peter Robinson bombshell on state of devolution

By Rebecca Black

"The Government's focus is on supporting the political parties in Northern Ireland, voted for by people in Northern Ireland, in terms of making the political devolution powers there work.

"That has been and remains the Government's and the Prime Minister's view."

Official spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron

"I think it is very important that progress is made on welfare reform, I think it is also important that progress is made on flags, parading and the past.

"I can say very clearly that the Government will continue to do all we can to try and bring all the parties back to the table on those matters and to facilitate and push for an agreed way forward on those matters."

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers

"I welcome Peter Robinson's light-bulb moment. It is far from the first time the DUP have pitched their tent on our ground.

"Stormont is dysfunctional, but we need to look at why. The answer is clear. The DUP did a bad deal at St Andrews. The very things Peter Robinson is complaining about are products of St Andrews, which introduced the blocking mechanisms that have led to this stalemate. Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness adopted an 'Ourselves Alone' attitude to government. Now they have fallen out, the carve-up has become a face-off.

"The fix is a fairer deal."

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt

"Megaphone or media-based negotiations are counter-productive.

"We all have a responsibility to work together, but in the first place the First Minister should talk to me and to his Executive colleagues."

"We have overcome enormous challenges in the past by treating each other with a degree of respect.

"With the support and engagement of the two governments and the US administration I'm confident we can find a resolution to our current difficulties."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

"Our strong advice to Dublin and London is move now, move decisively, move to all-party, two-government talks. This current crisis is a manifestation of an on-going deterioration of the workings of the Executive between the First and Deputy First Ministers. This an abject admission of failure on behalf of the First Minister. This was the same First Minister who said that the success of the Assembly would be judged on delivery."

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell

"On Monday the DUP misused the Petition of Concern procedure in order to protect Nelson McCausland from any degree of accountability. Last week the Lord Chief Justice reminded us of another DUP minister who breached important conventions on the relationship between government and the judiciary. The fact is that as long as parties put their own interests first, the institutions won't work.

"By putting their party positions first on welfare reform, Sinn Fein and the SDLP have created a financial crisis.

"But the DUP's handling of the June monitoring round, and long-term mismanagement of public finances in the Department of Finance and Personnel and Department of Health, have left the Executive in a place where it can't cope with that crisis."

Alliance Chief Whip Stewart Dickson

"For years hasn't Peter Robinson boasted that at St Andrews he and his party fixed the Belfast Agreement? Now, it seems not. Is the reality that TUV has long proclaimed slowly dawning on the First Minister?

"But it is not a sticking-pastler approach which Stormont needs, but root and branch change, whereby mandatory coalition and its crippling mutual vetoes are ditched.

"It is inevitable that one day the present unworkable Stormont will implode. The system of mandatory coalition is bound to fail. Only the glue of parties' love for a semblance of power holds it together. But, ultimately this unnatural system of government will collapse. Voluntary coalition and an Opposition are the only route to durable devolution.

"The financial stalemate and resulting pain for those Stormont misgoverns saps the public's will for it to survive. The evident and colossal failure of this Stormont makes the case for a workable alternative stronger with every day of failure which passes.

"It is indeed time that Mr Robinson pulled the plug and put his chronically failing government out of its misery."

TUV leader Jim Allister

"The DUP are embroiled in internal turmoil, Sinn Fein are controlled from Dublin, the UUP remain in freefall alongside the SDLP and Alliance are in electoral meltdown.

"The Executive is a shambles.

"Ukip suggest that the Executive give themselves six more months in office to improve their delivery of government – with failure to restore confidence resulting with an Assembly poll taking place on the same day as next year's Westminster election."

Ukip's leader in Northern Ireland, David McNarry

Belfast Telegraph


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