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Former DUP adviser reiterates concerns following party rebellion

11 DUP Assembly members abstained in the vote.

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It has been reported Arlene Foster was cautioned against the Bill (Niall Carson/PA)

It has been reported Arlene Foster was cautioned against the Bill (Niall Carson/PA)

It has been reported Arlene Foster was cautioned against the Bill (Niall Carson/PA)

A former DUP adviser has reiterated concerns about a proposed new law which gives ministers in Northern Ireland more power following a party rebellion.

The Executive Committee Functions Bill passed its final stage on Tuesday but 11 DUP Assembly members abstained in what could be interpreted as a challenge to leader Arlene Foster’s authority.

Richard Bullick advised former First Minister Peter Robinson.

He said: “I’m concerned about the danger of that but it turns on a few moving parts.

“These issues are more grey than some current arguments suggest.”

At issue is the party’s ability in future to veto a minister’s actions which it disagrees with.

DUP MPs Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Sammy Wilson and Nigel Dodds cautioned the leader against the Bill, the BBC reported.

Education Minister Peter Weir told the broadcaster: “The DUP is united in wanting to deliver for all the people in Northern Ireland and I think people admire the strong leadership Arlene Foster has given, particularly over the last few months with the Covid virus.”

The bill was passed before Stormont went into recess on Tuesday.

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Former DUP minister Mervyn Storey was among Assembly members to abstain from the vote (Liam McBurney/PA).

Former DUP minister Mervyn Storey was among Assembly members to abstain from the vote (Liam McBurney/PA).

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Former DUP minister Mervyn Storey was among Assembly members to abstain from the vote (Liam McBurney/PA).

South Belfast representative Christopher Stalford said his party fully supported it, but his colleague Jim Wells voted no and said some of the party’s members were extremely unhappy.

Trevor Clarke, Alex Easton, William Humphrey and former ministers Mervyn Storey and Michelle McIlveen were amongst those to abstain.

The new law was introduced after a court judgment two years ago over a waste incinerator.

It overturned the Executive’s approval for the facility near Mallusk in Co Antrim and cast into doubt the extent of ministerial powers.

PA