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Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
DUP ministers to resign

The ministers are resigning from government
The two Democratic Unionist Party ministers in Northern Ireland's power-sharing government have given details of their plans to resign.

Regional development minister Peter Robinson and social affairs minister Nigel Dodds have handed in letters to the first and deputy first ministers' offices, confirming that they will leave their posts on Thursday 27 July.

However, they have said they will rotate the posts among DUP assembly colleagues.

The move follows the anti-agreement party's failure to win sufficient support for a motion to remove Sinn Fein from the power-sharing executive.

It has been signalled that the ministers replacements will be the DUP security spokesman Gregory Campbell and the party's chief whip Maurice Morrow.

But DUP leader Ian Paisley said legal reasons prevented him from naming who would take the party's two positions on the executive.

The DUP gained the support of a majority of unionists at Stormont on Tuesday night for the exclusion move - 32 out of a possible 58 - but failed to achieve its aim of gaining 60% unionist backing.

Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson: Position will be rotated
Mr Robinson said he had enjoyed the job but criticised "the set up of government in Northern Ireland which in an executive has people who are inextricably linked to the IRA".

"It would have been nice to have an executive in Northern Ireland that Nigel (Dodds) and I could have been sitting down to do the job that people deserve to be done," he said.

"But you cannot have that form of executive and indeed the structure itself doesn't lend itself towards that kind of system."

Northern Ireland First Minister and Ulster Unionist David Trimble criticised the move.

Nigel Dodds
Nigel Dodds: Resigned executive post
He said: "The only conclusion that can be drawn from this unfortunate policy is that the DUP is using these important ministerial offices for its own narrow political purposes."

In a statement issued jointly by Mr Trimble and Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon he said they continued to be "astonished" at the antics of the DUP ministers.

"How anyone can believe that rotating ministers regularly will not harm the delivery of public services is a mystery," Mr Trimble said.

He claimed that policy was an "abuse" of the public interest and a breach of the good faith which the two ministers pledged on taking up office.

Mr Trimble pledged that both he and Mr Mallon would take whatever steps necessary to ensure that important public services were not disadvantaged.

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See also:

04 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
SF expulsion motion fails
28 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Unionist supports Sinn Fein exclusion
02 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Sinn Fein criticised over flag stance
29 May 00 | Northern Ireland
The Stormont ministers
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