Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was last night slammed by DUP MLA Edwin Poots for “absolute hypocrisy” as the public spat between the two ruling parties continues.
The Lagan Valley MLA was responding to Mr McGuinness’s claims that the DUP’s withdrawal of support for a peace and conflict resolution centre at the Maze prison site was a “mistake”.
The centre was to be built as part of a £300m redevelopment of the site.
Mr McGuinness said the move gave “succour” to some “in the extremes of political unionism”.
However Mr Poots, whose constituency includes the former Maze site said: “The absolute hypocrisy and cheek of Martin McGuinness knows no bounds.
“He needs to stop blaming everyone else for the action taken on the Maze and wake up to the reality that his party and their actions are responsible for the lack of confidence that any peace centre can be a shared space.”
North Belfast DUP MLA Nelson McCausland said: “Once again republicans seek to blame everyone for their own outrageous behaviour. “The action taken by Peter Robinson was not taken in a vacuum but in the context of Sinn Fein repeatedly undermining unionist belief in their commitment to reconciliation.
“The DUP has been absolutely clear in the last few days but it obviously needs to be repeated - the rest of the Maze development can and should proceed without obstruction. The decision regarding the peace centre does not need to impact upon the massive economic potential of the site and the thousands of jobs which can flow as a result. The only people who appear to be casting any doubt on these jobs are Sinn Fein.
“Its time Martin McGuinness took off his green white and orange glasses and lifted his gaze beyond the audiences of republican commemorations.”
Meanwhile, the SDLP leader Alistair McDonnell claimed the public spat between the two biggest parties at Stormont continues to sour the political process.
“Last week we saw how Peter Robinson, viewing the mob violence in Belfast from his American holiday, played to the gallery of unionist extremism and made a fundamental U-turn on the Maze in a bid to appease this minority.
“Now days later we see his deputy, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, similarly move to appease his party who are obviously demanding an angry response over the airwaves.
“This public fighting does nothing to aid or assist the ordinary people of the north who we were all elected to serve.
“All it does is to sour the political process and make the challenging and necessary decisions that we as political leaders face all the more difficult.”