Mrs Long said the vote and the tone of the First Minister’s speech to the Assembly underlined the need for an independent probe into the controversy.
“This is not about any individual but the integrity of the wider institutions, and the anger, weariness and disgust people have towards them,” she said.
“However, instead of the promised Ministerial statement from the First and deputy First Minister on how to recover the money lost due to this botched scheme, the First Minister decided to take to the floor as an individual Minister, breaking her joint office, to launch broadsides against her erstwhile colleague and political opponents.
“If she wished to, the First Minister could have demonstrated leadership by voluntarily stepping aside and initiating a short, time-bound, independent and judge-led inquiry into this matter. But rather by her approach, she has compromised the Speaker, the Executive Office and the wider power-sharing institutions by firstly breaking the joint nature of her Department and then not taking the opportunity to stand aside while an investigation takes place.
“The actions of the First Minister have unquestionably further damaged the standing of the political institutions in the eyes of the public today and I would ask her to reflect on what is more important – her political career or confidence of the public in the political structures.”