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Thursday 30 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C
PA Wire/Press Association Images Robinson has come out strongly against claims he's leaving.

DUP war of words as Peter Robinson forced to deny he's leaving

Former DUP health minster Edwin Poots made the claim this morning.

A ROW HAS erupted at the top of the Democratic Unionist Party with one senior member claiming that First Minster Peter Robinson is to step down before the next election and Robinson coming out denying it.

The claim was made by former health minister Edwin Poots who told BBC Radio Ulster that it was “public knowledge” that Robinson would leave “within months”

Poots, who has refused to back Robinson to lead Stormont’s largest party in the May 2016 vote, told presenter Stephen Nolan that Robinson has said himself that he will stand down.

“You (Nolan) were referring to the assembly election and I already knew that it wasn’t really the intention of Peter to stay on to that time in any event,” he said.

“That’s public knowledge,” he continued. “In the interview he carried out (with the Belfast Telegraph) he referred to months, and months is generally taken to be less than a year. ”

Robinson has immediately responded to Poots’s claims by issuing a statement denying that he is to leave.

“Neither now, nor before the assembly election, have I any plans to stand down,” he said.

The public and media can be confident that when I decide such a moment has arrived I will be the one to make the announcement. I repeat the comments I have previously made that I will continue to lead as long as the party and the electorate in East Belfast wish me to do so.

Poots was replaced by Jim Wells MLA as health Minister last night as the DUP leader reshuffled his ministerial team as the viability of the Stormont executive continues to be questioned.

Read: Obituary: Ian Paisley: 1926 – 2014 >

Read: Unionist parties all walk out of Stormont talks in protest over parade block >

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