Alliance Party confirm they are not in a position to take the Department of Justice…

Looks like four will become two as the SDLP and Alliance look set to head for the opposition benches.

 

This does explain some of the earlier messages from the First and Deputy First Minister, has a possible deal been done between Sinn Fein and the DUP on this?

Party is saying there is a gap between themselves and OFM/DFM on reform of the Petition of Concern.

Statement from David Ford;

Alliance submitted a paper to the DUP and Sinn Fein on Tuesday outlining where we believed movement could be made and today they responded

It is clear we are not on the same page when it comes to seeking progress for our society and as such, I cannot recommend to Alliance Party Council this evening we take the Justice portfolio.

“There has rightly been public frustration over the repeated failures of other parties in the Executive and a different approach is undoubtedly needed. Alliance does not want more stop-start politics but rather is concerned with taking Northern Ireland forward faster. We sought reassurances the DUP and Sinn Fein agreed with us on fundamental reforms to benefit our community. However, judging by their response, that is not the case.

“The proposals Alliance put to the DUP and Sinn Fein were ambitious and would have moved Northern Ireland forward. We have engaged constructively throughout this entire process, with delivering for our community foremost in our minds.

“It is clear there is a problem for the DUP and Sinn Fein to resolve in terms of finding a Justice Minister but they have rejected our solution. It is now up to them to resolve the problem over the next six days.”

  • colmh

    Surely Alliance will be heading for the “unofficial” opposition benches as they don’t have the numbers needed.

  • Croiteir

    And once again SF make themselves lookweak by not acting first.

  • mjh

    Well now we know, subject to final official confirmation from the SDLP that there will be three parties in opposition.

    Time to move on to what sort of opposition that will be.

    Will it be a co-operative model with allocated shadow ministers acting in combination? An alternative coalition to the DUP/SF coalition?

    Or will it be a three party cat fight with each struggling to set themselves apart from the other? A replica of all that was worst in the last Executive?

  • Declan Doyle

    Whooooops !

  • Msiegnaro

    Mike Nesbitt has played a blinder here, all the parties are following him in haste.

    Arlene doesn’t look at all happy!!

  • Lionel Hutz

    Why would the UUP (and potentially SDLP) allow alliance into the official opposition

  • Mojo

    Still remain to be convinced that the Alliance for Justice negotiation is finished.
    Hopefully Alliance stand their ground. Can’t see Steven Agnew or Claire Sugden as Justice Minister.
    Would love to see a coherent 3 party (or more) opposition with an agreed policy platform, but still a long way off.
    Progress towards this would be a positive development and give a real alternative to DUP/SF at next election.

  • Ryan A

    Why would they not? Not doing so would make the ‘official opposition’ just a paler version of what the executive is now

  • Lionel Hutz

    Because the whilst SDLP and UUP need to get votes from SF and DUP…..alliance need to take votes off SDLP and UUP. Whereas they could push alliance into irrelevance if they refuse them

  • chrisjones2

    Er…how do they stop them

  • chrisjones2

    In the OFMDFM double act who wears the trousers?

  • colmh

    OFMDFM are henceforth to be referred to solely as #Marlene

  • mjh

    You could equally ask why would the UUP not appoint a shadow minister for every department and let the SDLP as the minor opposition party fight for the odd few seconds as the third voice on any issue?

    The answer is the same to both questions. Because if opposition is to produce any positive benefits for those parties they need to be seen to be offering something different.

    It’s not enough for any of the opposition parties to put their faith in the old saw that ‘governments lose elections rather than oppositions winning them’. They also need to remember that divided oppositions never win elections.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Best I can do with the Opposition is the Acronym Safeman.

    Sugden
    Agnew
    Ford
    Eastwood
    McCann
    Allister
    Nesbitt

  • Kevin Breslin

    It would actually be worse if Martin McGuinness’s party jumped ship too.

  • NotNowJohnny

    The rules for being part of the official opposition are set down in legislation. It is not up to the UUP and/or SDLP.

  • Redstar

    And yet further cringe worthy proof of DUP running rings round the Shinners

    And yet they don’t get it why in WB they are being abandoned in droves by the voters!!!!

  • Neil

    Can Justice not be farmed out via d’hondt? Leaving the Shinners with the chance to take Finance. So the DUP have to choose, Shinners at Justice, or DUP at Justice leaving Finance open for the Shinners if they have the balls to take it. Or is there some rule preventing that?

  • NotNowJohnny

    What is it in particular that convinces you that the DUP is ‘running rings round the Shinners’?

  • Lionel Hutz

    Alliance dont have the mandate to get in by right

  • Redstar

    Where do you want to start?
    How’s the Irish Lang legislation going….

    How’s the equality agenda progressing….

    Basically apart from playing second fiddle to them and tripping over themselves to prove they are acceptable to make the statelet appear workable- what in gods name have they achieved towards getting this place independent from Britain- that is assuming that is still an SF aim? Not exactly something they would bring up over sausage rolls when in grovelling mode at British Royals garden parties!!

    They are so out of touch I reckon it hadn’t even dawned on them why poll turnout is flatlining in Republican areas

    Their doomed strategy has failed

  • NotNowJohnny

    The Minister of Justice has to be elected by a cross community vote in the Assembly which shouldn’t be a problem if both parties agree. I expect the DUPs position is that it desperately wants the Finance portfolio as is its entitlement as the largest party but it doesn’t want to be seen to be facilitating SF to take charge of Justice. One would think that the Shinners at Finance is the more likely outcome if it comes to this …. unless the DUP can ensure that the SF justice minister has no previous history of the Justice system.

  • Neil

    Cheers for that.

  • Kevin Breslin

    D’Hondt?

    Finance – Hanna (SDLP)
    Economy – Overend (UUP)
    Justice – Long/Farry (Alliance)
    Communities – Mallon (SDLP)
    Infrastructure – Palmer (UUP) 😀
    Agriculture – Dobson (UUP)
    Education – Beattie (UUP)
    Health – McNulty (SDLP)

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’d give them Shadow Justice just to rub it in.

  • Kevin Breslin

    You can’t gerrymander elections from the opposition benches.

  • NotNowJohnny

    It is not within SFs’s gift to ‘get this place independent from Britain’. That requires the consent of the people in both jurisdictions voting for it. If anyone happens to buy into the idea that SF really has a strategy which will deliver independence from Britain then perhaps one has to take a long look at how easily they are duped.

    The GFA is primarily a model for the good governance of Northern Ireland with appropriate checks and balances built in to ensure no community is discriminated against as happened previously. In fairness to SF, at some level at least, good governance for the benefit of its own community is what it is endeavouring to do with a certain measure of success. It will be interesting if SF ends up in charge of justice or finance next week which would surely be a measure of success, however I recognise that this will not be looked upon as success by some.

    The question therefore is ….. what do you want Sinn Fein to do over the next few days/weeks (that is within its gift to do) to addresss your concerns?

  • Lee

    I reckon DUP and SF already have an understanding which ministries they will take and in what order, obviously its easier to do this with no other parties in the government.
    This will likely involve the DUP taking Justice (and probably getting ‘lumbered’ with health again, while SF get their favourite option, possibly getting to take education again or economy.
    And should Alliance take Justice after all, no bother, DUP/SF just work their choices around this.

  • mickfealty

    How would they have done that?

  • NotNowJohnny

    Finance is the big one. Justice the controversial one. Health the difficult one. Communities the one you don’t want if you don’t wish to be seen to be implementing welfare reform.

  • Redstar

    NNJ don’t take just my word that they are viewed as failing amongst voters in Republican areas- look at the facts iro plummeting turnout.

    They no longer have a believable/ achievable narrative. Just hanging on to DUP shirt tails telling us all what a great place the North can be whilst still under British rule no longer cuts it for Republican voters. It’s a turn off

    For other voters in our community SFs conservative anti worker policies are a turn off . Cutting 1000s of public service jobs whilst supporting tax breaks for multi nationals is unacceptable, made worse by their inconsistent approaches North and South

    In short they have morphed into an Uncle Tom conservative establishment party made up of aging career politicos – out of touch and no longer relevant

  • NotNowJohnny

    Perhaps you missed the question. But there you go.

    You do realise the the NI block grant could no longer support the high number of public sector jobs and that SF negotiated a significant additional sum from the British Government to fund the very generous voluntary redundancy packages given to public sector workers. Given that this was the reality, what alternative policy would you suggest SF should have sought to persuade its executive colleagues to implement?

  • Tom Hewitt

    Perhaps they could take it in turns to hold the post?

  • Lionel Hutz

    Exactly. Come to think of it. Can alliance join the official opposition by invitation even if UUP and SDLP were so inclined to extend it. I’ll have to look at the legislation. Does anyone know what it’s called?

  • Redstar

    Can you explain why SF oppose Corp Tax cuts in the 26 but support them in the 6.. I mean giving billions to multinationals and their share holders whilst cutting the public sector-they are out Torying the Tories

  • Croiteir

    Assert that they would take the post and assert their mandate

  • babyface finlayson

    means F.A.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I asked Mark H Durkan, he said no, according to McCallister’s legislation Alliance needed 9.

    I guess they may need to count People Before Profit Alliance as “Alliance” and get 10 that way though an Alliance Alliance.

  • Ryan A

    Myth. It’s increasingly nonsense Unionist/Nationalist votes leave their communal pool or both SDLP/UUP would have been knocked out flat on their asses a long time ago. If anything I think the UUP would be more worried considering Naomi the qualified Engineer might be a better shadow minister than many of their own.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Thanks. That answers a question I’ve had all week. So I guess we can understand why mcguinness and foster brought in anew and sugden then. It was them telling ford that he needs them more than they need him

  • Kevin Breslin

    Alliance have been in unofficial opposition before. Only thing Alliance get out of taking the Justice Ministry is the principle that they’ve saved the institutions from the spat between SF and the DUP which would bring down the executive and force an election.

  • Reader

    So the DUP (with first pick) gets the post. SF then decides whether to pull the plug on the Assembly and get punished by the electorate.
    Or suppose that the DUP didn’t take the justice ministry, but instead pulled the plug on the Assembly when SF took it – would that be better?
    There’s only one local solution – Alliance runs the Government and everyone else goes into opposition.

  • Frank Sinistra

    Have asked a few people more boring than me and it seems there is nothing to prevent a Justice Minister being nominated from outside the ranks of our inept MLAs.

    This seems a likely stunt from both the leading sectarian parties.

    Some well thought of idiot that’ll quickly find out they can do what Alliance managed – nothing

  • Croiteir

    SF could do that – or they could go ahead and take the next pick. Which I would advise them to do, if the DUP then abuse the position of Justice minister walk out and get rewarded by the electorate for standing up to unionism.
    And if unionism pulled the plug so much the better.
    Alliance running the govt – I suppose a bit of humour is needed rigt enough

  • Gopher

    Your joking right. Arlene is absolutely euphoric. She has a unilateral petition of concern, her partner in government is a lame duck that needs her support or else the opposition will eat it for breakfast with 34 v 28 MLA’s presently. If Alliance enter the scales it becomes 42 v 28. So far Arlene has played a blinder letting Marty do most of the running.

  • Gopher

    SDLP and UUP = 28 MLA’s
    SF = 28 MLA’s
    SF+PBP= 30 MLA’s
    SF+PBP+Greens= 32 MLA’s
    SDLP, UUP and Alliance = 36 MLA’s

    Its simple maths Lionel

  • Granni Trixie

    The DUP would need to change their tune ( and I would welcome that). For example let’s not forget that Arlene blocked agreement to fund the proposal by Sir Declan Morgan to have inquests into 50 legacy cases on grounds that it wasn’t fair to “innocent victims” – thereby judging the nature of the cases not following the evidence where it exists.

    On one hand I see Sf or the DUP in Justice as a sign of normality – at the same time I have worries.

  • Gopher

    Cant see SF getting Justice or Finance. I imagine the compromise will revolve around how many departments SF get

  • Croiteir

    Well who trusts unionists with power, apart from unionists?

  • Granni Trixie

    Cryptic – Please expand on what you are getting at.

  • Gopher

    Credit to Alliance for finally learning to strike a hard bargain and stop giving freebies away when your in a strong position.

  • Granni Trixie

    You underestimate an alliance voice. And believe it or not some parties are not driven by your kind of thinking.

  • NotNowJohnny

    That’s an interesting view. I haven’t done the maths but I assume that in a two party executive the figures show DUP 4 SF 3 with the justice portfolio up for grabs. The question is would Sinn Fein settle for 4 executive ministries in exchange for the DUP getting justice AND finance? I’m no shinner but if I was, I wouldn’t settle for that deal. I’d be insisting that dhonte was run for all 8 ministries and let the DUP have first choice as they are entitled to.

  • eireanne3
  • Gopher

    Wont work like that SF are now in government by the good grace of the DUP and their 38 MLA’s that insure the “Opposition” dont beat up on SF’s 28 MLA’s. You know the way the SF culture minister survived last assembly. In the same scenario now without the DUP she is toast. That basically goes for every SF minister in the future .

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well “East Derry Independent Claire Sugden/East Londonderry Independent Claire Sugden” provides the E for a UPSTAGE acronym based on Party names

  • NotNowJohnny

    I’m afraid I don’t see it like that. SF is in government on the basis of its 28 seats rather than by the good grace of the DUP. The GFA guarantees this. Granted the DUP could withdraw from the executive but that wouldn’t alter SFs entitlement to be in the executive.

  • tmitch57

    Well who trusts nationalists with power, apart from nationalists?
    Who distrusts all others of a different ethnicity, except for another breed of nationalists?

  • ted hagan

    Not so much Arlene as McGuinness.

  • Gopher

    It does not alter their entitlement but on 28 seats the opposition is entitled to beat them up as they are a minority and dont have a POC. Its simple really SF in government are now reliant on the DUP numbers for protection, Whilst the DUP if Alliance join the “rebel opposition” have 28 SF votes and if that fails the POC. This puts the DUP in the box seat with regards shaping the government. Martys exasperation with the defection of the SDLP to the rebels can put down to this. If he had 30 seats he would have been booting them out the door

  • Msiegnaro

    Alliance look weakened and out of ideas, they and the SDLP are clearly following the UUP lead.

    It’s clear from the election that Alliance do not have a mandate from the people to be in government or to hold the DOJ role and are therefore only taking the only option they have.

  • Msiegnaro

    Gopher and Ted – I am clearly missing something as you two and others have advised that it is Arlene and not Marty who is in a position of power – why is this felt?

  • Croiteir

    Shall we say that the history of unionism with power is not good. And you only have to look at the behaviour of the councils of MEA and NA to see the problem is still present

  • Gopher

    UUP+SDLP+Alliance = 36

    DUP = 38
    SF = 28

    With basic addition we can tell that Arlene does not need Marty to survive any votes when one considers the moderate centre opposition. If the moderate centre opposition can make deals with the more “shouty” fringes to bring their total to 42 (41 if Sugden gets Justice) Arlene still has a POC.

  • Lionel Hutz

    I’m not really underestimating them. I’m placing them as electoral competition. Alliance surely try to compete with UUP and SDLP. So why give them an additional platform. Doesn’t make a lot of sense

    Also, I don’t think the opposition would really want a POC. Even though they could argue they wouldn’t want to misuse the PoC, a sdlp/uup/ap oposituon would find it hard to explain why they don’t trigger it every time a policy they don’t like comes along. They would have to spend a lot of time explaining which is similar to the problem they had truing to argue against the executive whilst being in it.

  • Ryan A

    Considering the SDLP are a boundary review / seat reduction away from potentially ending up smaller than Alliance if I were them I’d be weary of getting oneself into a sauce for the goose situation 5 years from now. In any case Alliance still hold formal speaking rights; restricted to parties of 5 of more.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I look at the introduction of the Super councils and the SDLP held up reasonably okay.

  • Skibo

    Don’t quote me on this but I believe at one time it was SF policy to oppose the reduced corporation tax rate in the south but I do not believe it is now current policy.
    They support a cut in corporation tax in the north if it is financially viable. That is yet to be proved as the cost are not fully agreed with Treasury and the offsetting of the benefits of the reduced corporation tax has not been confirmed to bee returned to our budget so it is not black and white that corporation tax in the north will be reduced.
    Now how do you think SF should go about preparing the North for reunification?
    The private sector is too big and the public sector is too small.
    Surely the reduction of the private sector is a move in the right direction and 20,000 jobs would only be a start?
    The public sector has to be increased. Over the last term, the OFM/DFM assisted in the introduction of approximately 40,000 jobs. They are aiming for 50,000 this term. Sounds like a plan to me.
    Admittedly NI has continued to haemorrhage jobs. Much of this is down to non commercial levels of rates and the cost of services. We are tied into an electric tariff that is not competitive with the south. It has to be resolved even if it means introducing incinerators to produce energy from burning rubbish.
    We have to stop burying our heads in the sand and saying “not in my back yard”. The poultry industry require an incinerator to burn poultry litter. We have a growing poultry industry and we are going to smother it through lack of vision.
    It is actually in Unionisms’ interest to keep NI mortgaged to Westminster as the South could never afford to bail us out to the same extent.
    Finally if all you can do is knock SF for not doing enough then grow some cahonas and come up with a plan.
    I for one do not see a reunited Ireland emerging out of another violent uprising.

  • Skibo

    Just remember Arlene cannot do it on her own and needs SF. How will she get a Justice Minister elected on her own?
    Should SF need a POC, you will find that it will be for a policy that DUP do not hold and both the Greens and PBP each have the two votes required to make the grade.

  • Skibo

    Do not forget PBP and the Greens. Two extra votes are all SF need and either party can supply.
    UU have to be able to offer an alternative to DUP so it will not just be “beat up on SF”
    Can you really see UU assisting SDLP in making SF toe the Socialist line?
    All is not as black and white as you make out.
    It will be a symbiotic relationship between SF and DUP as either can collapse it at any time. NO FM or DFM for a certain length of time will collapse the Executive.

  • Skibo

    It is not in SDLP or UUs’ gift to say who will be in opposition. If not in government, then in opposition. Will Jim or PBP or the Greens be told they cannot be in opposition?
    My mistake Lionel, as Alliance do not make the 8% criteria, you are correct and it would not be in the interest of either UU or SDLP to share the enhanced speaking rights.
    As such, it makes more sense for Alliance to go cap-in-hand to DUP-SF for the Justice ministry or head off into the wilderness.

  • Skibo

    This would have to be agreed as there is no framework. The only thing agreed will be the leader and the deputy leader of the opposition, and the chair and deputy chair of the public accounts committee. I do not see anything else in legislation for a shadow executive.

  • Skibo

    Kev the problem will be where they are picking up the last seat where it won’t be there next time around.

  • Skibo

    Actually the official opposition will be MIklum as only the UU and the SDLP qualify officially, having over 8%.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Getting the “last seat” in 6 doesn’t matter going from 6 to 5, it’s getting the increased quota that matters. One or two of those last seats were an all SDLP contest. There are people who may’ve been elected on the first count who may not get in the next time even if their vote holds up. Parties with three or four MLAs in one constituency, will see their vote squeezed. Those who have the most seats face some of the biggest losses across the 18 or 17 constituencies. And anyway, Agnew got the “last seat” in North Down, it spurred him on. It’s a great lesson I not letting pessimism and nay saying ruin the best effort candidates can put forward and offer.

  • Skibo

    Kevin from what I have seen there are too many places where the SDLP vote is just too far from the 16.6 % required to get elected. In a number of constituencies there are 1.5 Nationalist quotas where the second Nationalist seat will be lost to Unionism. In both South Down and Foyle SDLP and SF are sitting on 1.5 quota each. It will be interesting to see who manages their vote the best.
    I do not see SF running 4 again in either West Tyrone or Fermanagh again. SDLP may not come through in either. Saying that the SDLP vote was well fractured by the party in West Tyrone.

  • Kevin Breslin

    There are few constituencies were Alliance have a clear 16.6%. In a number of constituencies like Foyle, Fermanagh South Tyrone, South Belfast, I somehow do not think Anne McCluskey’s transfers would be bringing the DUP through. Foyle looks like SDLP 2, maybe SF 2, PBP vs DUP.

    Mid Ulster, possibly Newry and Armagh, South Down, unionist seats are also under threat. In strong Unionist areas like East Belfast, Strangford, North Down, Lagan Valley it’s virtually certain the DUP or UUP will be the ones losing seats, if not Alliance/Greens. Jim Allister’s North Antrim seat isn’t safe.

  • Kevin Breslin

    They got 8 seats from the people with their mandate. They only needed 1 to ensure DOJ. In fact they are 1 seat up from the time they first took up the position.

  • Skibo

    It will be interesting times. Just one thing, did the legislation say the next Stormont election would be based on 5 MLAs per constituency or the 2021 election? I thought I heard somewhere it was the next election!