“I do not see any reason whatsoever why we [the Executive] forced this issue…”

As mentioned earlier in the comments, Reg Empey told Talkback that he backed Margaret Ritchie, in that he was not prepared to pass the disputed minutes. He is critical of the late delivery of the minutes. The production of four (action?) points unseen before the meeting during an ad hoc discussion (ie, only added to the agenda at the last minute).

“Normally when someone has a problem with a minute it is deferred until they can produce evidence of inaccuracies or until they can talk to the First Minister or Deputy First Minister to sort it out. This happens regularly. There was no requirement for that minute to be passed yesterday, sometimes minutes are months behind. I was puzzled by that. I was asked if I would go down to my department and my home to see if I could find any notes that might help, and I said no I am not in the middle of a meeting like this. What’s the urgency of this?”

His recollection, he said, was closer to Ritchie’s than that of the minutes. He also confirmed that his understanding was that Ritchie had sought guidance, but had been told that it was her ministerial responsibility.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty