Page last updated at 22:20 GMT, Monday, 11 January 2010

Reaction to Robinson announcement

Peter Robinson

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."

MARK DURKAN, SDLP LEADER

"When there is this sort of uncertainty going on, on top of what was already there, over the devolution of justice and policing, it just becomes hugely difficult.

"What we have to do is work a way forward through these difficulties."

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."

PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN

"I have spoken to Arlene Foster this evening. I urge all politicians in Northern Ireland, whatever the turbulence of recent events, to remain focused on the business of government, and to recognise the crucial importance of intensifying engagement in those issues which remain to be solved."

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."



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