Peter Robinson urged to publish legal advice

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Indy Politics

Democratic Unionist leader Peter Robinson has faced calls to publish legal advice clearing him of breaching his code of office.

He has resumed his role as Northern Ireland First Minister after receiving the legal opinion, raising hopes of progress in the search for a deal to save the power-sharing government.

But ministerial executive colleague and Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie said there were more questions to be answered.

"I don't think the scope of this inquiry by senior crown counsel was sufficient to address fully public interest issues or answer the questions that are out there," Ms Ritchie, a nationalist SDLP leadership candidate, said.

She added that she had the utmost respect for the barrister who produced the advice, Paul Maguire QC, and said she was sure he had done a thorough job.

Mr Robinson has said he is happy to co-operate with other reviews. However, an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) spokesman said there should be full transparency, saying: "It would clearly be in the public interest for this legal opinion to be published in full.

"However there are also ongoing investigations, including a police inquiry, together with investigations by Parliamentary, Assembly and Electoral Commission authorities. We will await the conclusion of those investigations with interest."

In the latest move, after weeks of drama at Stormont, Mr Robinson said he had been cleared of breaching his code of office in the first of a series of probes into his handling of the financial scandal surrounding his wife, Iris.

This comes as his party was accused of being split over proposals for a deal on policing, justice and parades with Sinn Fein after nearly two weeks of round-the-clock negotiations. And with the DUP denying internal divisions, and the Government still searching for agreement, there is speculation yesterday's announcement may strengthen Mr Robinson's hand.

Mr Robinson stepped down temporarily from the job on January 11, after it emerged that his wife secured £50,000 from two property developers to set her teenage lover up in business while she was an MP.

* Source: The Belfast Telegraph