Making a statement

Caral Ní Chuilín MLA, Sinn Fein, has tabled a question for an urgent oral answer today (MONDAY 11 January 2010).
To ask the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to outline to the Assembly any possible implications for the OFMDFM in respect of allegations relating to financial matters made by the BBC Spotlight programme.
Rt Hon Peter Robinson MP MLA, First Minister of Northern Ireland, is due to give an oral answer in the Assembly in reply to Ms Ní Chuilín at around 3.30pm today.

Having a bit of a cheeky wee go at the whole issue, Danny Kennedy MLA, UUP Deputy Leader, raised a point of order on whether the First Minister would be making the statement and if any resignations had been given. In retort, William Hay, Speaker of the Assembly, confirmed the First Minister will speak at 3.30pm and that he has received no resignations from any MLAs at the present time. He also stated that he does not want things like this dealt through Points of Order in future.

I don't think today will be the day when Peter resigns.

However, this whole saga, in combination with the Policing and Justice debate, is leaving Northern Ireland in a devolution predicament. Whatever the outcome for Peter, the matter of our current devolved government seems to be skating on thin ice (see what i did there? What with all the cold weather and all?? Oh forget it.)

If Policing & Justice can not be agreed, we could be going into a period of either suspension and/or elections earlier than the stated 2011. The Westminster government may wish to see the strength of feeling of the electorate, especially within unionism, and allow any logjam to precipitate an early election.

With regards to Peter's position, the DUP MLAs have just pledged their "unanimous" support for him as party leader and First Minister at a press conference in Parliament Buildings. This is a bit of good news for Peter, but for how long? With Ministers from the Free Presbyterian church calling for him to go, and Gregory Campbell saying in the Derry Journal that Peter should be given seven days to prove that he did not breach any rules over his wife's financial affairs, Peter may not be out of the woods just yet.

Though, any investigation that finds him innocent of misconduct will be a big, big boost to his stance of not backing down.



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