DUP slams claims that Robinson is to resign by Christmas

Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson

The DUP last night dismissed speculation that party leader Peter Robinson would stand down by Christmas.

Media reports at the weekend alleged that deputy leader Nigel Dodds would replace him as party leader and that Finance Minister Arlene Foster would replace him as first minister.

The mooted reshuffle, it was claimed, would help settle a party which has reportedly seen tensions persist between the Robinson and Paisley supporters.

Comments made by Mr Robinson on Friday were being read by some as evidence of his intention that he would be succeeded by Mr Dodds and Mrs Foster.

He said: “Going forward five years, effectively being run by Westminster, then in those circumstances it would be more sensible to have a party leader who was based at Westminster than in a Stormont that didn’t exist.”

The media speculation focused on the fact that Mr Robinson is 66 and had a heart attack in May.

However, a DUP spokesman said: “It is not the first time Sunday papers have published this story.

“Clearly it was a quiet news day and this always fills a few inches.”

On Friday Mr Robinson said neither he, his party nor his family stood to benefit from the £1.1 billion sale of NAMA property.

The first minister defended his involvement in discussions prior to last April’s deal to sell 850 assets to giant US fund Cerberus, saying that in meetings there was “no vulgar talk about fees”.