Page last updated at 10:17 GMT, Monday, 7 April 2008 11:17 UK

Power-sharing will last: Robinson

Peter Robinson
Mr Robinson is viewed as Ian Paisley's likely successor

The man expected to be NI's next first minister has said he is confident power-sharing will continue.

There has been speculation that Peter Robinson's relationship with incumbent deputy first minister Martin McGuinness could prove difficult.

In contrast, the former IRA leader and Ian Paisley got on so well they were dubbed the "Chuckle Brothers".

"We have had the first period of stable local government for decades and it will last," said Mr Robinson.

The DUP deputy leader and MP for East Belfast was writing in the Irish Times about the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement.

"What is all this talk about the 10th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement? Why is a celebration being organised? Has nobody told them it crashed years ago?" he asked.

"The Belfast Agreement did bring peace. It institutionalised the obscenity of the 'ballot and the armalite'. The IRA was permitted to continue as before while Sinn Fein was allowed to pursue its political aims through the assembly.

We have a programme for government, investment strategy and budget. Let's celebrate success not failure
Peter Robinson

"Since we were entrusted with the leadership of the unionist community, the DUP has been about the business of dismantling the Belfast Agreement and replacing it with a fair deal."

Mr Robinson said the new political arrangements, which have seen the DUP and Sinn Fein sharing power at Stormont, were "delivering for the electorate in a way the old dispensation never did".

"We have a programme for government, investment strategy and budget. Let's celebrate success not failure," added the finance minister.

Mr Robinson has been viewed as the clear favourite to take over as DUP leader and first minister after Ian Paisley steps down in May.

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