22/05/2009

DUP Executive Members To Stand Down

Some of the DUP's most high profile Stormont politicians are preparing to resign from the Assembly, the party leader has said.

Peter Robinson said those within the party, who hold a double mandate, would leave the Executive table, in a radical shake-up of the DUP's ministerial team.

He has even signalled that he may soon step down as MP for East Belfast himself - after 30 years.

Mr Robinson said his position on the issue was "fairly well known".

On Friday, he added that he intended to talk to his constituency association about his role but insisted "the future of Northern Ireland was more important".

This week's DUP initiative is aimed at eradicating 'double-jobbing', and Mr Robinson said earlier that all but one of the party's seven MPs, who hold either a ministerial portfolio or committee chairmanship, would step down from their Stormont role.

He said the previous arrangement had been necessary to secure the bedding-in of the Assembly.
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However, the First Minister and East Belfast MP said it is "simply not possible" for colleagues to perform multiple roles.

The reshuffle is expected before the summer recess, and could see incumbent ministers Nigel Dodds, Sammy Wilson, Gregory Campbell and Jeffrey Donaldson all leave the Assembly.

It could also mean MPs Iris Robinson, William McCrea and David Simpson would leave their posts as Stormont committee chairs.

Mr Robinson, speaking in Bangor last night, said: "I believe that solid foundations have been laid and we have reached the period when the baton can pass to the next cohort.

"Therefore it is my intention to announce changes to our Executive and Assembly team before the summer recess so that no more than one of my seven Parliamentary colleagues who presently hold either a ministerial position or committee chairmanship will continue to do so.

"This is a necessary prelude to the ending of double-jobbing," he said.

The DUP leader said it was not for him to decide "whether colleagues choose Westminster or the Assembly".

"We will each announce our own decisions in the coming months after we consult with our constituency associations," he added.

(PR/BMcC)

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