Published Friday, 20 July 2012
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During a speech in Dublin on Thursday, the Secretary of State said it is "profoundly disappointing" that the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy has not yet been published by the Executive.
"A start has to be made and we will support the devolved administration when they have to take difficult decisions.
"We cannot have a Northern Ireland in which everything is carved up on sectarian grounds," he said.
But Peter Robinson labelled Mr Paterson's comments "unfortunate" and referred to the series of decisions announced by the First and deputy First Ministers earlier this week, including "considerable progress" on the CSI strategy.
"We will be talking to party leaders and consulting the Executive with a view to finalising the document in September," the First Minister explained.
The Ulster Unionist Party withdrew from the group following a comment from the ministers that they had made "considerable progress" by the working group to agree on a Cohesion Sharing and Integration Strategy, which promotes better community relations and greater integration.
"He should also have noted that his UUP friends want us to delay the decision further but I note the Secretary of State had no criticism for them," added Mr Robinson.
The speech would give the impression that our Secretary of State is most comfortable when publicly attacking the Northern Ireland Executive and local politicians.
Mr Paterson also referred to a consultation paper which includes the possible revision of the size of the Assembly, the length of its terms, and ending dual mandates.
"We will also be asking whether it is desirable in principle for the institutions to move to a more normal system of government and opposition and, if so, how this might be achieved," added the Secretary of State, adding that the Assembly will eventually suffer because there is no "natural opposition".
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also criticised the Secretary of State for giving a "clumsy and ill-thought-out speech".
"The checks and balances contained within the Good Friday Agreement are not up for negotiation.
"There will not be a return to majority rule in the north. And let me be very clear to Mr Patterson, Sinn Féin will resist absolutely any agenda being pushed by him to re-write the Good Friday Agreement."
Mr Robinson said the Stormont government is "far from perfect" but added that the Westminster coalition is "stumbling from one crisis to the next".
"Given such a backdrop it is a rich for Mr Paterson to lecture people in Northern Ireland about good government."