Robinson in bitter personal attack on Adams
Robinson in bitter personal attack on Adams

DUP leader Peter Robinson directed a stream of invective against Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams tonight in the clearest sign yet that the political stalemate gripping the North is at breaking point.

In an extraordinary outburst, the First Minister branded Mr Adams a “sad spectacle” who was seeking only “to grab some media attention”.

Mr Robinson rejected Mr Adams’s accusations of bigotry among elements of his party over the implementation of the St Andrew’s Agreement. He said the Sinn Féin leader’s views should be “treated with pity rather than scorn”.

“What a sad spectacle Gerry Adams has become,” said Mr Robinson. “He has resorted to making outlandish and absurd claims in order to grab some media attention and seek support for his party’s present absurd position.

“The central accusation made by Mr Adams is wrong. The DUP is committed to working the Assembly for the maximum benefit of all of the people of Northern Ireland.”

Last night, Mr Adams repeated his party’s recent criticism of the DUP position. He was speaking at a Sinn Féin conference in Belfast at which sitting MEP Bairbre de Brun was named as the party’s candidate for next year’s European election in the Six Counties.

Echoing comments made by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness last weekend, Mr Adams challenged the DUP’s refusal to participate in cross-community government which, he said, was jeopardising the power-sharing institutions.

“It is obvious that there are elements with the DUP who do not agree with power-sharing and partnership as a political model or as practical politics,” said Mr Adams.

“In addition, there are clearly elements of the DUP who really don’t want to have a Catholic about the place. They are opposed to power-sharing in any form.

“And some of them clearly believe that by stalling and delaying they can hollow out the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements.

“As a result of this opposition the DUP has been retreating from its obligations under the St Andrews Agreement.”

Sinn Féin’s current policy is to not participate in Executive meetings without movement on the implementation of critical outstanding issues, such as the devolution of policing and justice powers from London to Belfast.

Speaking to supporters at a DUP dinner in Crilly Orange Hall, County Tyrone this evening, Mr Robinson claimed that Sinn Féin were becoming isolated.

“The contrast between the approach that we have taken and the approach of Mr Adams could not be clearer,” said Mr Robinson.

“On the day he was making false allegations of a sectarian nature, I was meeting local business leaders who need the help of the Northern Ireland devolved government in these trying economic times.”

He said Sinn Féin’s appeals for the delivery of the promised Irish language Act would not help families pay rising household bills.

And in a further attack on Mr Adams’s role as MP for West Belfast, Mr Robinson added: “West Belfast has some of the most deprived communities in Northern Ireland - both Protestant and Roman Catholic - and what is their MP doing about it? Banging on about his party-political objectives.”

Mr Robinson said: “People will rightly judge this as yet another sad outburst from a man who is frustrated that he is no longer able to control events in the way he once did.”

Robinson’s personal comments appeared to hasten the prospect of an imminent Assembly election, the likely result of a breakdown in the Executive.

Tonight, a Sinn Féin spokesperson hit back at Mr Robinson’s comments: “Many people in the wider community are questioning Peter Robinson’s tenure as First Minister.

“There has been one Executive meeting during his four months in office. What Peter Robinson needs to do is focus on delivering on the obligations his party entered into in the St Andrews Agreement.”

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