Page last updated at 16:17 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

DUP MPs 'to quit Stormont seats'

Peter Robinson
Mr Robinson it is important that he keeps a role in Stormont and Westminister

Any DUP assembly members who are elected to Westminster will give up their Stormont seats, with the exception of the party leader.

Peter Robinson made the announcement at an election event on Thursday.

He said it was important for the party leader to maintain "the access that comes with being an MP".

He also said the party's MPs and ministers would step down from local councils but did not indicate when this would happen.

Twelve of the DUP's declared Westminster candidates, including seven sitting MPs, are also MLAs.

Trevor Ringland, Conservatives and Unionists candidate for East Belfast, said he welcomed the decision but criticised the DUP for acting on the double-jobbing issue "on the eve of a general election."

"The scandal of double jobbing has scarred Northern Ireland politics for too long.

"Without our clear commitment to ban double jobbing if we form the next government it is unlikely the DUP would have taken this step."

At the election event Mr Robinson also apologised for the DUP's failure to act to alter what he called "the systemic defects" surrounding expenses at Westminster and the European parliament.

Mistakes

Although he said he had been given a clean bill of health from Sir Thomas Legg's audit team, Mr Robinson added: "We all need to be contrite and apologise for our failure to act."

In his address Mr Robinson accepted his party had made mistakes.

He said that in 2007 the DUP did not do enough to explain what it did and why it did it.

But he added he did not accept that the DUP broke its word or went back on election commitments.

"Some of the criticisms we faced are fair but many others are not," he said.

Mr Robinson also said the DUP manifesto had made clear it was committed to restoring devolution.

He attacked the UUP for playing politics over the devolution of policing and justice and said the it had run out of steam years ago.

He also criticised the TUV saying the party was dividing unionists and peddling the dangerous disillusion that it had a better alternative.

The TUV leader Jim Allister responded by calling the DUP "the enablers and deliverers of Sinn Fein rule."

Mr Robinson said his party's election slogan will be "Let's keep Northern Ireland moving forward."

The General Election is widely expected to be held on 6 May.



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