“A spokesman from OFMDFM declined to comment.”

Two mentions of that extraordinary letter from OFMDFM in two separate articles in the Belfast Telegraph today. First in a report of a speech by John Corey of ICTU at a sparsely attended rally in Belfast – “I would say to the two ministers that what the Belfast Telegraph prints is the least of their problems.” The second is by the deputy leader of the UUP, Danny Kennedy, MLA.

“Two weeks ago the DUP was threatening the local media with possible legal repercussions if they carried a story about the collective expenses of their MPs,” the UUP MLA said. “Then last week it was revealed that the DUP leader, along with Martin McGuinness, had written to the owner of the Belfast Telegraph complaining about how they reported Executive business. “The media has a very specific role in every democracy. No political party will ever be entirely happy with media coverage.”

Mr Kennedy said he was “very disturbed” by the “in tandem” complaint against “Northern Ireland’s largest circulation newspaper”. “Maybe an apology would be in order, along with an apology to a dedicated and hardworking core of journalists across Northern Ireland. “Newspapers are not an extension of the DUP-SF propaganda machine. It is their job to report and comment on political reality, not the Pollyanna version of it so beloved by our co-equal First Ministers,” he added. A spokesman from OFMDFM declined to comment.