The BBC report on the aftermath of the Executive meeting at which the Social Development minister, the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie, claims minutes were adopted which had been altered is worth looking at in detail. In particular the quotes, since both the Deputy First minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, and the Economy minister, the DUP’s Nigel Dodds, argue, explicitly and implicitly respectively, that the Social Development minister is claiming something that she doesn’t seem to actually claim.The quote from Martin McGuinness
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he was very disappointed and said the social development minister was “losing the run of herself”.
“The fact is that there was no vote whatsoever on her statement in the assembly. There was no vote whatsoever on the Conflict Transformation Initiative,” he said. [added emphasis]
“In fact, there was trenchant criticism by all ministers but the decision was taken by Peter Hain in the first place to fund the UDA.
“There is not a person in the executive who would give the UDA 2d. That is exactly where this executive is at and I think Margaret needs to stop losing the run of herself.”
And from Economy Minister, Nigel Dodds – who doesn’t actually contradict Margaret Ritchie in the available quotes
DUP Economy Minister Nigel Dodds said the debate was not about the Conflict Transformation Initiative, but on the minutes of the last executive meeting and the directions given to Ms Ritchie. [added emphasis]
“As far as we are concerned – and it was said in the executive – everybody accepts the aims and objectives that Margaret Ritchie has set out as far as paramilitarism is concerned, as far as the UDA is concerned, as far as ending criminality and parliamentary activity.
“But we have got to go about this in a legal way, in a proper process in the way in which the executive has laid down.”
And the quote from Social Development minister Margaret Ritchie
“I was outvoted by the DUP and Sinn Fein on what the Executive had decided in relation to my statement on the Conflict Transformation Initiative-Ulster Defence Association related project,” she said. [added emphasis]
“The two Ulster Unionist ministers voted with me. I believe that this sets a dangerous precedent as it allows the DUP and Sinn Fein to control other ministers by controlling all decisions.
“I am firm in the belief that I have behaved properly at all times and the decision I have taken to end the funding was correct, was proper and in my conscience was the right thing to do.”
Which would seem to be a reference to the issue of what was decided in the previous Executive meeting – about what procedure would be followed before that statement was made – and were the issue of those disputed minutes would be important.
Do the UUP ministers have anything to add?