'Martin Has Never Let Me Down' ROBINSON ON SF MAN

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Byline: DAVID YOUNG n.ireland@mirror.co.uk

PETER Robinson last night praised Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness as a man who has never let him down during their time sharing power at Stormont.

And the DUP figurehead will use his leader's speech at the party conference in Belfast at the end of the week to highlight the achievements he believes the Executive has delivered.

The First Minister said: "It is a relationship [his and Mr McGuinness's] that has worked and I believe it has worked to the benefit of everyone.

"I don't think there has been any occasion when we have spoken to each other when we have promised to do something when either of us has let the other one down.

"That's the basis upon which I think you can have a fruitful business relationship.

"We are from very different political backgrounds.

"Each of us has political baggage the other may not be pleased about and I think the fact we are so different in terms of outlook and background and ideology is more to our credit that we have been able to work together."

But while he has reached a number of agreements with Sinn Fein, Mr Robinson made clear he did not share the republican party's belief the time was approaching for a vote on a united Ireland.

He added: "I think it is becoming less and less likely there will be a border poll.

"The legislation lays down very strict criteria for the Secretary of State [Theresa Villiers].

"The Secretary of State calls a border poll if the Secretary of State believes there is a likely outcome that would lead to people voting for a united Ireland - it's going in the opposite direction.

"I could imagine Sinn Fein don't like this pill and don't want to swallow it but the fact is the number of people who want a united Ireland is reducing because people are content with the status quo.

"If there was a border poll I would be very confident of the outcome. …