Trevor Lunn MLA said: “Reg Empey’s cynical attempt to portray his party as being excluded from discussions doesn’t stack up. His party has consistently refused to engage in this process, yet they found time to hold secret talks with the DUP, Conservatives and Orange Order.
“Reg is fiddling while his party burns. Ulster Unionist MLAs and Councillors have made no secret of their consternation at what has been going on. Reg is an outrageous political flirt and no-one knows who he will try and step out with next. It would be more beneficial for him to focus on the justice talks to help secure a positive and lasting deal, instead of running around seeking new political suitors.
“Alliance has engaged constructively in these talks, both verbally and by way of detailed papers on the policy programme for the ministry, the relationship with the Executive and on a new community relations strategy. These papers have been acknowledged as useful by the two governments, the DUP and Sinn Fein. They were also provided to the UUP who as usual made no response as Sir Reg prefers to maintain his voluntary exclusion. He should stop sulking and start engaging.
“Alliance is being accused by the UUP and others of actively seeking the Justice Ministry and is being accused of being prepared to do anything to obtain it. This is totally untrue. The Assembly will vote on a cross party basis for the Justice Minister, as laid down in legislation. We had no part in drawing up that legislation. Only if the Assembly votes for an Alliance nominee, and if our conditions have been met, subject to the will of our Party Council, will we accept the post. If the Assembly votes for someone else, Alliance will constructively support the Minister as we have supported the process to date. Will the Ulster Unionists say the same?”