Published Wednesday, 17 October 2012
First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson hit out at Sinn Féin and the SDLP. (© PA)
The DUP leader was addressing party members in West Tyrone when he made the comments.
"Too often (SDLP Environment Minister) Alex Attwood's position one day is Sinn Féin's the next," Mr Robinson said.
"Or worse still, a fear of what the SDLP will say or do can often paralyse their ability to take decisions ... Time and time again, the SDLP takes a stance that Sinn Féin lacks the courage to oppose.
"We have seen it on welfare reform, pension reform and parades. This has been bad for community relations and bad for government."
Mr Robinson was particularly scathing about both nationalist parties on the issue of welfare reform.
The second stage of a reform bill - which proposes the most radical changes to the benefits system in Northern Ireland in years - was recently passed by 60 votes to 42 following a marathon debate.
The bill faced strong opposition from Sinn Féin, who wanted to defer introducing the measures to allow for further talks with Westminster.
"The truth is that they wanted the bill to go through, but they didn't want to be seen voting for it," Mr Robinson claimed.
"Had they brought the Bill down altogether, they would have been faced with either a nightmare for many on benefits or Westminster stepping in to clear up the mess.
"I don't expect much in the way of thanks, but you would think that the least Sinn Féin could do would be to acknowledge that it was the unionist parties that were prepared to do the right thing."
In fairness to Mr Robinson, he has truly represented his party view.
Alex Maskey, Sinn Féin
Mr Robinson added: "The SDLP position was little better.
"Having been prepared when they were responsible for it to implement welfare reform measures from Westminster, they now cynically seek to exploit the present situation."
In response, Sinn Féin said Mr Robinson's speech was a return to "us and them politics" and had more to do with the approaching DUP conference.
"The DUP got it wrong on the welfare cuts from day one," South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey added.
"It may be naivety or it may be that some within their ranks support the Tory policies.
"To a person they have acquiesced and Mr Robinson has been to the fore in articulating this. From day one, they accepted the Tory cuts and said as much."
According to Mr Maskey, the reform bill must be changed and that challenge posed would demonstrate who was up to showing leadership.
"Mr Robinson is right about one thing, the Assembly will be judged on whether or not it delivers.
"Judgement time is here Peter. Let's see what we can do to ward off the welfare cuts, let's see what we can do to protect the disadvantaged and the less well off.
"Let's see who is up for the challenge. And let's see who will show the mettle and leadership to drive this forward in the better interests of the people we represent.
"Sinn Féin is certainly up for it. The jury is out on whether or not Peter Robinson or the DUP are."