Sinn Fein call on Executive ministers to focus on task at hand after Poots exit

Edwin Poots in the Chamber on Thursday Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Sinn Fein have called on Executive ministers to focus on the task at hand, following the resignation of Edwin Poots as DUP leader.

Mr Poots announced he is to step down after only three weeks in the job, following a party revolt against his decision to nominate a Stormont First Minister.

However, there was little sympathy for the Agriculture Minister from either nationalist or unionist politicians reacting to his departure.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: “Whoever leads the DUP is a matter for that party.

“Sinn Fein has worked for weeks to bring stability to the Executive – our priority is our response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the continued successful rollout of the vaccination programme and rebuilding our economy to sustain jobs and livelihoods.

“We have monumental challenges ahead that will require unity of purpose and urgency. They include tackling the totally unacceptable hospital waiting lists that have left people crucified, in pain and without hope.

“That is our focus and should remain the focus of all ministers in the Executive.”

Ulster Unionist Party leader, Doug Beattie said the events were “inevitable” and that “Unionism deserves better.”

“The unedifying events around the DUP leadership were entirely inevitable” he said.

“It doesn’t matter who the leader of the DUP is because they will face the same critical issues which were negotiated and agreed on their watch.

UUP leader Doug Beattie speaking to reporters at Stormont Credit: Liam McBurney/PA

“Unionism deserves better and Northern Ireland deserves better. Unionism needs modern, confident, progressive leadership and a road map for recovery and renewal.”

He added: “The Ulster Unionist Party will concentrate on providing that leadership and remains a united, welcoming party that is looking to the future.

“For too long Unionism has been fed a diet of fear and negativity. We have the talents and abilities to project a more confident, inclusive, vibrant brand of Northern Ireland unionism across the United Kingdom and beyond.

“There are huge challenges ahead, but by setting out a proper long-term strategy for the future, we can lift unionism to a better place.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood tweeted: “We’re in the middle of a pandemic, waiting lists are sky rocketing, our economy is in crisis.

“Maybe it’s time for some grown up politics. I, for one, am sick of this soap opera.”

Alliance MLA for South Belfast Paula Bradshaw tweeted: “Next DUP Leader must learn that playing hardball gets them nowhere.

“What you put out, you get back. The challenge is to work with the rest of us to deliver progress for all, not to circle the wagons.”