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Statement by Reg Empey, 11 January 2010

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Text: Reg Empey ... Page compiled: Martin Melaugh

Statement by Reg Empey, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), on Robinson decision to temporarily step down, Belfast, (11 January 2010)

"I have listened carefully and not without some sympathy to the revelations and allegations surrounding Peter and Iris Robinson.

I know, too, that the allegations concerning financial improprieties are having a profound impact on public confidence in the devolved institutions.

Peter Robinson has indicated the enormous personal pressure he has been under since last March and, putting it bluntly, that sort of pressure cannot be conducive to constructive decision-making.

However, his decision to appoint Arlene Foster as Acting First Minister does nothing to address the crisis in public confidence in devolution - in fact, it intensifies it.

Having undertaken the role of Acting First Minister in the past, I am very aware that this position is occupied in a purely care-taker capacity.

At this crucial time in the political process, we now have two lame-duck First Ministers, neither of whom can make the decisions necessary to ensure proper, working devolution.

In a highly cynical fashion the DUP have decided to put party before country.

Northern Ireland requires strong, stable government capable of taking the hard decisions required to be made in order to secure working devolution.

This requires a First Minister who is neither mired in attempts to clear his name nor an Acting First Minister in a care-taker capacity incapable of taking the hard decisions.

The people of Northern Ireland will be asking if today marks the beginning of the post-Robinson era."


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