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UUP attacks Stormont’s ruling ‘axis’ as pre-election battle begins

By Noel McAdam

The DUP and UUP have traded blows as the build-up to the Assembly and local council elections begins.

With a week still to run before the Assembly winds up, a pre-poll skirmish between the two main unionist parties is under way.

The DUP’s ire was drawn after senior Ulster Unionist figures — who voted against last week’s Stormont Budget — appeared to adopt the slogan ‘Time to Make Stormont Work’.

Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott and deputy John McCallister issued a double-barrelled attack arguing the DUP and Sinn Fein “axis” at Stormont is not working.

Fermanagh MLA Elliott said Finance Minister Sammy Wilson had praised Sinn Fein during the Budget debate but also commented that getting them to pass on financial information “was like trying to interrogate republican suspects at Castlereagh Holding Centre”.

He added: “This is not just more double-speaking from double-jobbing Sammy. It’s a sign of how dependent the DUP have become on Sinn Fein. It’s wrong, it does not work and it is time to make Stormont work.”

South Down MLA Mr McCallister asked whether DUP leader Peter Robinson would continue his own “double-speak ... trying to disguise the mismanagement of his Sinn Fein’s chums Caitriona Ruane and Conor Murphy by attacking Health Minister Michael McGimpsey.”

But from the US, where he is with a Stormont delegation for St Patrick’s Day celebrations, First Minister Robinson hit back, claiming the UUP was working to “wreck” Stormont.

He added: “People are looking for good government and when they look at the UUP they only see hypocrisy, a record of failure and political immaturity which would bring instability.”

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