DUP accuse Sinn Féin of delays


GOVERNMENT PARTNERS in Northern Ireland were last night at loggerheads over responsibility for official delays in business.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)accused Sinn Féin of frustrating the work of the ministerial Executive after disagreements over issues like abolishing selection for post-primary education and devolving policing and justice powers to the Assembly.

However, Sinn Féin said it was prepared to meet unionists at any time to resolve outstanding matters. DUP Assembly member Peter Weir claimed "narrow party-political reasons" were to blame for delays in holding Executive meetings.

"It is my understanding that the First Minister has cleared over 30 papers, sufficient to fill two or three Executive agendas and he has sought to have the Executive meet on a number of occasions," he said.

"Concerning recent issues that have received press attention, the DUP has said that we are willing to talk to other parties concerning other issues. Nevertheless, all parties should be in no doubt that attempting to frustrate the working of the Northern Ireland Executive in a vain attempt to get their own way will achieve nothing."

Sinn Féin Education Minister Caitriona Ruane has promised to end pupil testing after this year in a move opposed by unionists. Her party has also been campaigning for greater recognition of the Irish language and progress on a planned Maze stadium in Co Antrim, issues which have raised DUP concerns.

A DUP source confirmed: "Our message is aimed at Sinn Féin." Mr Weir added: "Members of the Executive from other parties have already publicly acknowledged where the blame for some of the recent hold-ups lies and it isn't with the DUP.

Ms Ruane has written to all Ministers requesting a special Executive meeting to discuss her proposals. - (PA)