Ulster Unionist Leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA, has expressed concern and suspicion that the Deputy First Minister failed to answer a direct question concerning legal advice afforded to Ministers in the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.
Mr Nesbitt said:
“I understand officials within OFMdFM have specialist knowledge in the matter of legislative competence and regularly advise Ministers on whether proposed legislation is legal or not.
”I wanted to know if such advice was sought before OFMdFM brought forward an amendment to the ill-fated Planning Bill, which would have seen economic planning matters taken away from the Department of the Environment and into OFMdFM.
“While Martin McGuinness assured me neither he nor Peter Robinson would bring forward an amendment such as that without taking legal advice, he pointedly declined to say what the advice was.
“It is my understanding the advice was that it was not legal to do what was proposed, and I repeat what I said at the time, that there was an arrogance at work at the heart of our devolved government and as a consequence the Planning Bill gathers dust on the shelf.”