McCartney Slams DUP on Direct Rule

Article excerpt

THE DUP has been challenged to explain how it would do any better than direct rule ministers in addressing the Province's economic and social problems.

UK Unionist leader and MLA Bob McCartney has taken the party to task, in the wake of a speech earlier this week by Jeffrey Donaldson.

The Lagan Valley MP said the DUP was committed to restoring devolved government, and saw this as the best way to get to grips with issues such as water charges, rates reform and business needs.

Direct rulers "seldom have the best interest of Northern Ireland at heart", said Mr Donaldson.

Mr McCartney, who was supportive of the DUP during the Westminster elections, noted that it was easy for the DUP to oppose water charges and criticise Northern Ireland Office ministers.

But he suggested the party's ideas may not add up, when the party opposes water charges or rates hikes while also demanding investment.

"The DUP should tell us now how they are going to fund a system without the requirement of increased water charges or increased rates on a capital value basis," said Mr McCartney.

He said he opposed water charges and rates increases, and suggested the only way to avoid them may be to tell central government that a return to power-sharing could not happen until decades of underinvestment in Northern Ireland were rectified first.

He continued by claiming that while Mr Donaldson may be correct that NIO ministers do not have Ulster's interests at heart, ministers in the devolved government had been "guilty" of the same decisionmaking when in charge at Stormont. …