McGuinness: 'Protest is being organised by the UVF'

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The deputy first minister said the welfare reforms of the Westminster government were "decided by people many of whom are millionaires", on 26 November 2013.

Martin McGuiness was replying to a question from the UUP's Samuel Gardiner about a warning from UK Work and Pensions Minister Mike Penning that £5 million a month would be cut from the block grant from January 2014 as a result of failure to implement welfare reforms.

The deputy first minister criticised Mr Penning for the comments made in a BBC interview, which Mr McGuinness described as "one of the worst interviews I have heard from a direct-rule minister".

He said Mr Penning "would be better working out why DWP have already written-off £34m on an IT system that is not fit for purpose", and referred to legal challenges to the reforms in Great Britain.

"I'm not sure why people are in such a rush to see us get it wrong as well," Mr McGuinness said.

The DUP's Tom Buchanan asked the deputy first minister if he believed that his party leader, Gerry Adams, had not been a member of the IRA.

"I am on the public record that I was a member of the IRA," he said, adding that it did him no harm in getting elected.

The SDLP's Alban Maginness asked the minister about a forthcoming flag protest to be held in Belfast on a Saturday.

The minister said he agreed with Mr Maginness that the protesters had made their point.

"This parade is being organised by the UVF and is being supported by elements within the Orange Order," he said.

Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry answered questions on a range of subjects, including student numbers, employment law, and apprenticeships.

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