THE ongoing political talks will be successful “against the odds”, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness told a meeting of his party last night.
He said the devolved institutions “are worth saving and I believe the vast majority of people share that view”. But he said the parties must agree to protect the most vulnerable and ensure Stormont (the big house on the hill) has “a workable budget so that public services are delivered to the standard the public expect and deserve”. The deputy first minister also called on the British government to accept they are part of the negotiations and are “not some kind of neutral arbitrator”. He also hit out at the government’s legislation on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles and said it is “in clear breach of the Stormont House Agreement”.
“The legislation proposed by Theresa Villiers and her cabinet colleagues has more to do with covering up the role of the British state as a central player in the conflict and its collusion with unionist death squads,” he said. He said that the executive had succeeded in blocking the worst of the Conservative government’s cuts, including the introduction of water charges. He said lower student fees, free prescriptions and lower rates bills were “rarely highlighted successes of the executive and local parties working together”. The Mid Ulster assembly member warned that a return to direct rule will result in an “unrestrained onslaught on public services and the most vulnerable in our society”. Ms Villiers repeatedly warned that if the parties cannot agree a deal on welfare reforms, the British government will take back welfare powers as a “last resort”. Mr McGuinness said as well as welfare cuts previously announced, new cuts to tax credits in April will affect 120,000 families in the north.
<strong>With many thanks to: Claire Simpson, for the origional story, The Irish News.
SHAME Fein is to tighten its stranglehold on some of the top positions in Ulster politics.
Matin McGuinness is already Deputy First Minister at Stormont. Mairtin O Mueilloir is the current Lord Mayor of Belfast. And this spring another Shinner – Mitchell McLaughlin from Derry – will take over the Speaker’s Chair at the Assembly. Mitchell McLaughlin the MLA for South Antrim, although he’s originally from Derry, he has been serving as Deputy Speaker for some time. DUP veteran Willie Hay is expected to relinquish the prestigious post around April or May. He is also expected to stand down from everyday politics as an MLA. Stormont sources say he will be made a Peer, and take a seat in the House of Lords at West minister.
With many thanks to: Jim McDowell, The Sunday World.
DEPUTY First Minister Martin McGuinness has joined First Minister Peter Robinson is singling out The Irish News for criticism. over its coverage of the pair’s recent trip to the Americas. Responding in the assembly on Monday to questions about last month’s 12-day visit to Brazil the UengagementsMid Ulster MLA cited the paper on three occasions.
During the trip the first minister and deputy first minister faced calls from politicians back home for greater transparency. Their office refused to disclose basic details including the itinerary, travelling party and who the leaders were to meet. Press releases and pictures of certain engagements were released only after the meetings. The failure to answer questions was covered by several media outlets including the Daily Mirror and the BBC but Mr McGuinness mentioned only The Irish News on Monday. Just after the pair returned from their trip Mr Robinson told a reporter to ” Stop reading The Irish News “. In response to a question by SDLP member Conall McDevitt about the cost of the trip, Mr McGuinness said it was “being collated” and would be published in due course. He also gave assurances that the cost of other visits will be published online twice yearly and said figures for trips to China and India last year would appear ” within a very short peroid in the not-to-distant future “.
Mr McGuinness claimed SDLP comments on the secrecy would have been “much more productive” had they been prefaced with praise of the leaders ‘ efforts to attract investment. ” In spite of what The Irish News says, prior to us successfully attracting the New York Stock Exchange, Chicago Mercantile and indeed many other bussinesses to the north, quite clearly we have, against all the predications and a world economic recession, been hughely successful in building personal relationships not just in the United States but now in Brazil,” he said. The Sinn Fein representative accused the paper of ” ridiculous headlines ” about hotel costs and described aspects of its coverage as ” absolutely scandalous “. “There was a focus almost on what you ate for breakfast as opposed to the huge amount of work being done to try to attract foreign direct investment, much of which has been absoultely and totally successful thus far,” he said. In response to a question from party colleage Rosie McCorley about a meeting with HBO executives regarding the TV series Game of Thrones, Mr McGuinness again cited reports in this newspaper. ” The Irish News, through one of its business correspondents, remarked that a lot of these things would have happened anyway… The reality is that we built up important relationships with senior executives at HBO,” he said.
With many thanks to : John Manley ( Political Reporter ), Irish News.