Page last updated at 07:45 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 08:45 UK

DUP will shed most executive MPs

DUP ministers Gregory Campbell MP, Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Arlene Foster MLA, Peter Robinson MP, Nigel Dodds MP and Sammy Wilson MP
The DUP ministerial team includes five MPs

DUP leader Peter Robinson plans to reshuffle his assembly team - with all but one of his MPs possibly leaving the Northern Ireland Executive.

Mr Robinson was speaking in Bangor, where he addressed a range of issues including expenses and double jobbing.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has said he would not be standing as an MLA and an MP in the next election.

Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy said his party is also working to end dual mandates.

"It is impossible for anyone sitting in the Executive or Assembly committees to attend the British House of Commons on the same day," Mr Murphy said.

"Our MPs don't of course attend sittings of the British House of Commons. So our attendance at they Executive or Assembly does not present us with a problem.

"What we are seeing from the DUP is no more than an attempt to deflect from the revelations about the expenses claimed by Peter and Iris Robinson. "

Mr Durkan said "ministers shouldn't be MPs as well".

"If I stand in the next Westminster election, I will be standing on the basis I am not a continuing MLA, that's what our party position would be."

Mr Robinson has promised a reshuffle before the summer recess.

While not naming names he said of the seven other MPs currently committee chairs or ministers at the assembly, only one would remain.

MPs Nigel Dodds, Sammy Wilson, Gregory Campbell and Jeffrey Donaldson are in the frame to leave the executive.

It could also mean MPs Iris Robinson, William McCrea and David Simpson all leaving their posts as committee chairman.

Mr Robinson said new appointees would be in place by the autumn.

The DUP leader said the time was also coming, due to political stability when MPs could no longer justify serving in the assembly also.

'Train wreck'

He said that 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 said.

He urged all party leaders to agree reform of Assembly expenses before there is a "proverbial train wreck".

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said Mr Robinson had been pushed into the move after Conservative leader David Cameron pledged to ban double-jobbing.

"He has been forced to accept that the game is up, and bow to the inevitable. The comments yesterday from David Cameron were the final nail in the double jobbing coffin," he said.

Mr Empey claimed the the DUP had been "getting it in the neck on the doorsteps" over multiple jobs and Parliamentary allowances.

Jim Allister of the TUV said the DUP could act sooner.

"The mechanism exists to substitute MLAs overnight without by-election. So why does the DUP not do that immediately if it wants its new policy-shift to gain credibility?" he asked.



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