Saturday 25 March 2017

Robinson commits future to DUP

First Minister Peter Robinson, speaking in his office at Stormont Castle
First Minister Peter Robinson, speaking in his office at Stormont Castle

Peter Robinson has signalled his intent to lead the DUP into the next Assembly election and beyond, insisting he has not contemplated a life beyond politics.

Ahead of his party's annual conference at the end of the week, the First Minister also credited Martin McGuinness as a man who has never let him down on a promise in their time sharing power at Stormont.

But he said Sinn Fein also had to swallow the pill that a future border poll on Northern Ireland's constitutional status was growing more and more unlikely.

The 63-year-old East Belfast MLA made clear he personally has no desire to try to recapture the Westminster seat he lost to Alliance in 2010 but said he was planning to run in the Assembly poll in 2015 or 2016.

However, he ruled out the potential of staying in Stormont politics as long as his predecessor Dr Ian Paisley, who bowed out in his 80s.

Mr Robinson also reiterated his desire for a single Unionist party but acknowledged that UUP leader Mike Nesbitt did not share that view.

"I certainly feel very comfortable in terms of physically and mentally being able to do the job," he said of his desire to remain as First Minister for years to come.

"Of course when you get to my age there comes a time when you would like to take things a bit easier but I have fairly clear objectives in my mind of things that I would like to see in place.

"I want to ensure that my standing down would not affect the forward momentum of our progress here in Northern Ireland.

"I want to ensure that I hand over a party that's in a strong position and I want to do everything that I can to ensure that the Union is secure."

Press Association

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