LE REAZIONI ALL’ANNUNCIO DI ROBINSON
Non si sono fatte attendere le dichiarazioni dei politici nordirlandesi sull’affare Robinson.
L’autosospensione di Robinson ha provocato un terremoto politico all’interno di un esecutivo già duramente provato nelle ultime settimane. Risalgono a pochi giorni fa, infatti, le minacce di crisi dello Sinn Fèin al DUP in caso di mancato compimento della riforma sulla giustizia.
Declan O’Loan, autorevole voce dell’SDLP, ha dichiarato che una pubblica inchiesta su Robinson e il suo operato rimane nell’interesse pubblico.
La Foster, il ministro che ha preso le redini del governo in sostituzione temporanea, ha invece palesato un incondizionato appoggio al suo precedessore affermando che: ” a nome del Primo Ministro, voglio chiarire che egli respinge le false affermazioni di questi giorni e che il suo nome verrà pulito nei prossimi giorni”.
Nigel Dodds, che era stato indicato da molti come possibile successore, ha voluto esternare l’appoggio dell’intero partito al suo segretario Robinson: ” Il partito è irremovibilmente dietro di lui” , ed ancora: ” vorrei restasse a capo del partito”.
Blande le reazioni, invece, all’interno dello Sinn Fèin, dove Gerry Kelly glissa il problema Robinson lamentando di non voler procrastinare il problema devolution di altre sei settimane; egli dichiara infatti che il passaggio dei poteri sulla giustizia da Londra a Belfast “è un problema che deve essere risolto in breve tempo.”
Le reazioni nel dettaglio (BBC News Northern Ireland)
Reaction to Robinson announcement (BBC News Northern Ireland)
A round-up of the reaction to Peter Robinson’s decision to step down as first minister for six weeks following revelations about his wife’s personal and financial affairs.
ARLENE FOSTER, ACTING FIRST MINISTER
“All our elected representatives have clearly stated that they wanted Peter Robinson to be their leader going into the future.
“The very clear message from today, from the DUP is that we will choose our leader. We have chosen our leader and we are saying very clearly to him and indeed the rest of the political parties and the media here – “This is the man that we want to lead unionism”.
NIGEL DODDS, DUP DEPUTY LEADER
“The DUP has sat down and used its head. It hasn’t been buffeted or panicked into any particular decision.
“It has decided it’s going to act in what it believes is its best interests in supporting a leader who has clearly stated he has done nothing wrong and who we believe will be vindicated in that.”
GERRY KELLY, SINN FEIN JUNIOR MINISTER
“Peter Robinson is entitled to take this time off from his duties to attend to his personal matters.
“However it is crucially important that the outstanding political issues are resolved and resolved speedily. They cannot become further stalled by this announcement.
“The political commitments made by the DUP must be honoured. That means setting an early date for the transfer of powers on policing and justice.”
SIR REG EMPEY, ULSTER UNIONIST PARTY LEADER
“His decision to appoint Arlene Foster as acting first minister does nothing to address the crisis in public confidence in devolution. In fact, it intensifies it.
“At this crucial time in the political process, we now have two lame duck first ministers, neither of whom can make the decisions necessary to ensure proper, working devolution.
“In a highly cynical fashion the DUP have decided to put party before country.”
JIM ALLISTER, TRADITIONAL UNIONIST VOICE LEADER
“I suspect that the DUP’s attempted show of unity today was choreographed to provide a soft landing for the beleaguered Mr Robinson.
“His immediate stepping aside as First Minister may well be a precursor to his departure as DUP leader at a moment more of his own choosing.
“If, on the other hand, the DUP is genuinely behind Mr Robinson, then they are more out of touch with public opinion than I appreciated.
“The damage done to the Robinson brand is transferred to the DUP brand by such unequivocal support.”
DAVID FORD, ALLIANCE PARTY LEADER
“We are in a space at the moment where Peter Robinson stepping aside has allowed a bit of breathing space and the opportunity for progress to be made while he concentrates on some of his personal and family matters.
“But if that space is not used, if there is not full engagement between Sinn Fein and the DUP, there is a real question over the viability of the institutions.”
BRIAN COWEN, IRISH PRIME MINISTER
“I want to pass on my best wishes to Peter Robinson and his family as they deal with very difficult personal issues at this time.
“I welcome his decision to continue to work on the crucial issue of devolution of policing and justice and his commitment to a successful resolution.
“I also offer best wishes to Arlene Foster in her new role.”
First Minister Robinson steps aside ( U TV)
DUP leader Peter Robinson has stepped aside as Northern Ireland First Minister in a bid to clear his name and care for his family, following the scandal surrounding his wife Iris.
Assembly speaker William Hay told surprised politicians in the chamber that current enterprise minister Arlene Foster had been asked to temporarily take on the functions of First Minister.
Stormont officials said the procedural device could last for six weeks.
Mr Robinson, who vehemently denies any knowledge of his wife’s irregular financial affairs, remains leader of the DUP.
“I continue to contend I have acted ethically and it is particularly painful at this time of great personal trauma that I have to defend myself from an unfounded and mischievous allegation”, he said in a statement.
“I count it a great honour and privilege to lead the Democratic Unionist Party and I will continue to do so with the full support of my colleagues,” he added.
The first couple have been plunged into crisis after it emerged that Mrs Robinson had secured £50,000 from two wealthy developers to help her then 19-year-old lover Kirk McCambley set up a restaurant business in south Belfast.
A BBC documentary further alleged that her husband became aware of the situation but did not take steps to alert the appropriate authorities.
The Assembly’s Committee on Standards and Privileges confirmed it has initiated an official investigation into the conduct of Iris and Peter Robinson.
Sinn Fein Chief Whip Carál Ní Chuilín said the full examination had to be carried out as a “matter of urgency”.
Acting First Minister Mrs Foster said solicitors in the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister had already indicated that Mr Robinson did not break any rules.
“On behalf of the First Minister, I want to make it clear that he entirely rejects the sole allegation made by the BBC Spotlight programme and will be seeking to clear his name in the days that lie ahead,” the Fermanagh and South Tyrone member said.
“I am personally confident, my party is very confident, that this will confirm that Peter Robinson, the First Minister, acted entirely properly at all times – but let’s have this (investigation) and let’s have it quickly,” she added.
The shock move came just one hour after DUP colleagues backed the beleaguered Mr Robinson, who is under pressure to resign over the scandal.
Deputy leader Nigel Dodds, flanked by party faithful including former leader the Rev Ian Paisley, said they offered Mr Robinson their “wholehearted support” as leader and as First Minister.
Sinn Fein, who want policing and justice powers devolved as soon as possible, believe the crisis which existed at Stormont before Christmas has now deepened.
“If you have a political vacuum, it’s the history of Ireland that others will step in that vacuum. We need to make sure there’s no space,” Gerry Kelly told UTV.
UUP leader Sir Reg Empey questioned the appointment of Arlene Foster as a “caretaker” First Minister.
“At this crucial time in the political process, we now have two lame-duck First Ministers, neither of whom can make the decisions necessary to ensure proper, working devolution,” he said.
“In a highly cynical fashion the DUP have decided to put party before country.
The SDLP’s Mark Durkan said he felt it would be difficult for Mr Robinson to return to the top post.
“Now he has seen reason to move it is hard to see how he can come back and if he does he will certainly be diminished,” he said.
“But Peter Robinson’s decision to step aside will not do away with the need for further inquiries.”
TUV leader Jim Allister said the DUP were preparing a soft landing for Mr Robinson.
“His immediate stepping aside as First Minister may well be a precursor to his departure as DUP Leader at a moment more of his own choosing”, he said.
If Mr Robinson resigns, the posts of First Minister and Deputy First Minister, held by Martin McGuinness, would have to be filled, throwing the future of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing Executive into question.
Sinn Fein could delay nominating unless the DUP agreed to a timescale for the devolution of policing and justice.
If the power vacuum is not resolved within seven days it would fall to Secretary of State Shaun Woodward to call a Northern Ireland election.
A spokesman for Gordon Brown said the Prime Minister remained focused on completing devolution of policing powers from London to Belfast.
“The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is in constant contact with the Prime Minister on the issue and the Prime Minister has spoken in recent days with the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, and to the Northern Ireland party leaders,” he said.
Mrs Robinson announced over Christmas that she was quitting politics because of severe depression. She will now stand down sooner than planned as an MP, MLA and local councillor. Her DUP membership of the party was also terminated.
Mr Robinson confirmed his wife is continuing to receive acute psychiatric treatment through the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.
“As a father and a husband, I need to devote time to deal with family matters,” he said.