Peter Robinson criticises Alliance over flags row

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The First Minister accused the Alliance Party of "cosying-up" with Sinn Fein and the SDLP over the flying of the Union Flag at Belfast City Hall, on 11 February 2013.

Peter Robinson was replying to a question from Chris Lyttle in which the Alliance MLA spoke of the distribution of leaflets by DUP members about flags that "incorrectly referred to the Union Flag being ripped down".

The First Minister called on Alliance to "reflect and recognise the damage that they have caused by aligning themselves with Sinn fein and the SDLP on this issue".

In reply to a question from the UUP's Tom Elliott, Mr Robinson outlined measures being taken to address criticisms made by the Interdependent Commissioner for Public Appointments,

Mr Robinson told MLAs appointments policy was "a matter of public confidence".

He explained his department's response to a tribunal finding of religious discrimination against the Department of Regional Development, and the commissioner's criticisms of failure to comply with his code of practice.

The First Minister said a cross-departmental working group had been set up to examine "how compliance with the code could be improved and public confidence further enhanced".

Jim Allister of the Traditional Unionist Voice wanted to know if the First and Deputy First Ministers had considered asking ministers "to reveal the truth about their involvement with the past".

He said the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness expected people to believe he "mysteriously left the IRA in the 1970s".

Mr Robinson said that anyone with knowledge about people's involvement with the past should pass it on to the police.

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland answered questions on housing, welfare reform and redevelopment in Belfast city centre.

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