Northern Ireland

Robinson and McGuinness discuss DUP-Sinn Fein row

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness
Image caption The DUP's Peter Robinson and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness discussed tensions between their parties

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness had a full day of "clear the air" discussions on Tuesday, according to Stormont sources.

It followed recent public rows between their two parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein.

The sources said "everything was on the table" between the first and deputy first ministers.

That included issues such as welfare reform and the executive's draft shared future policy.

On Monday, Health Minister Edwin Poots said relations between the two parties were at their most strained since power-sharing began.

He accused Sinn Fein of sending out mixed messages on dissidents, while frustrating executive business.

The row followed Sinn Fein's ard fheis (annual conference) at the weekend.

The DUP said it wanted Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly to withdraw comments that he lacked confidence in the chief constable.

The DUP also cited a Belfast Telegraph straw poll of 50 delegates that suggested 26% still supported violence while Northern Ireland was part of the UK.

"Sinn Fein had a very backward looking conference, a conference which one might have expected 10 years ago," Mr Poots said.

"But as a party that's in government in NI they need to start looking forward and to drive this process forward."

Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd called the poll "dubious".

He said the first and deputy first ministers are capable of addressing issues.

"Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson and the leadership of the various parties sit down with each other, eyeball each other and have strong words with each other across the table and clear up any misunderstandings or beliefs that the DUP have about Sinn Fein's position and Sinn Fein clear up any belief or misbeliefs that we have about the DUP."

More on this story