As anticipated. In the Assembly the NI Executive’s Social Development minister, Margaret Ritchie, has just announced the withdrawal of funding for the UPRG’s CTI project describing the project as “risk-prone from the start”. [Adds The minister’s statement can be viewed here (RealPlayer file)] Update Finance minister, the DUP’s Peter Robinson, has just
accused stated that [he believed] Margaret Ritchie had gone against the legal advice to the Executive, and was therefore in breach of the ministerial code of conduct, in making the announcement and the Speaker has suspended the sitting. Meanwhile in the BBC studio, SF’s Martina Anderson said that the Social Development minister “should have been more measured” and criticised the minister for not seeking “collective responsibility” from her Executive colleagues. A BBC report on the minister’s statement here. Further report here. Back in the chamber. The Speaker has quoted the head of civil service [Nigel Hamilton] as having “serious concerns” about the legality of the announcement, and he also referred to conversations with other members of the Executive who had similar serious concerns, but the Finance minister’s point of order is not accepted. During questions, Sinn Féin seem to be focused on critising the minister for continuing to fund the project after devolution – Although Jim Gibney didn’t agree with that criticism. Along with her own party members, the Alliance party has been the most vocal in support of the decision while the DUP are focusing on questioning the legality of the decision and the legal advice she was given – which is described as “privileged information” by the minister. The minister also responded to repeated questioning by SF – “I will not be funding the UDA now or in the future.” More below the foldUpdate Full statement from the Social Development minister via the SDLP website.
And now on the Executive’s website
More This clip from the BBC’s Stormont Live coverage caught the end of the statement, the point of order, and some of the subsequent in-studio conversation as noted above.