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Executive in 'paralysis' warning

By Noel McAdam

The Executive is in danger of "early paralysis", the chairman of the committee that monitors the First Ministers' Office warned today.

Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy, whose multi-party committee was to meet this afternoon to discuss the anticipated Programme for Government, said legislation for the Assembly to work on was still not forthcoming.

"There appears to be some sort of blockage in the system," he said. "And it is causing a lot of frustration among Assembly members."

First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy Martin McGuinness are due to appear before the committee in the near future, possibly when draft proposals for the envisaged three-year Programme for Government emerge.

Mr Kennedy said: "The Assembly remains at the level of a school debating society, dealing with private members motions rather than real business.

"I think the difficulty is that the Executive is now at the point where real choices and decisions are having to be made and, frankly, it's not working.

"It is the nature of coalition government for there to be constant delays. Each of the parties involved has their own different priorities."

The Newry and Armagh MLA said he believed there would be "little or no" more money for the province from Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He said: " The administration appears to be facing early paralysis. My committee keeps on writing to ask what is happening, but there are few answers."

Mr Kennedy also said the handshake between Mr Paisley and President Mary McAleese had been "amazing".

"Given the high degree of animosity expressed by the First Minister in the past against not only the office of President but the individual holding it I think these were the most amazing pictures and will again have people asking - what is it all about?" he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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