Northern Ireland

First and deputy first ministers say they overcome disagreements

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Media captionThe ministers were speaking at first anniversary of the Titanic Belfast building.

The first and deputy first ministers have dismissed reports that political disagreements between them and their parties are having a debilitating effect on the Stormont Executive.

The pair say they have the ability to have the occasional row, but that they always overcome their differences.

Martin McGuinness said: "There has never been a time we haven't been able to speak to each other.

"There is not a coalition government that doesn't experience stress."

He added: "I think every now and then it does no harm at all."

Peter Robinson said overcoming differences was "what the process we are engaged in is about".

"We're now involved, and have been for some time, in resolving a whole raft of issues and making real progress and I think over the next few weeks you will see the product of that," he said.


"The executive is delivering. Maybe our failure is our inability to transmit that to the wider public, that is the problem."

Last week Martin McGuinness told the Sinn Fein ard fheis that some unionists were in power because they had to be, now said he believes Peter Robinson is in government because he wants to be.

The first minister said the Stormont Executive does not get all the credit it deserves because their message is sifted by newspapers "some of whom believe their role is to act as an official opposition".

Peter Robinson said the issue was not that they had disagreements but that they were able to work through those differences.

The first and deputy first ministers said that positive decisions they will take in the coming weeks will outweigh those issues on which they disagree.

The two ministers were speaking at the Titanic Centre in Belfast, which is marking its first year in operation.

Managers at the Titanic Centre said they have attracted more than 800,000 visitors, more than half of them from outside Northern Ireland, which exceeded their own expectations.