Fantasy Executive: you decide?

Mark Devenport with a fascinating article on who might be in the next Executive (that’s presuming the SDLP don’t form the opposition). For those you who weren’t sure, yes, the DUP get four Executive seats, everyone else two. You can send Mark your own permutations directly, or let us have them below!

  • peteb

    Before we get deluged with fantastical Executive line-ups, Mick, what struck me most about this piece when it appeared was how blog-like it was. You really could cut and paste it into virtually any blog around and it wouldn’t look too out of place – too long maybe, but not out of place.

    With the NI Blog slowly asphixiating in a forgotten corner of the BBC NI website… could Mark be thinking of branching out?

    (BTW ‘fascinating’ may be pushing the definition slightly ;o) )

  • Belfast Gonzo

    He could post here, instead of just reading Slugger!

  • peteb

    I was wondering if Mick might have suggested that, Gonzo.

  • Mick Fealty

    If the Corporation would let him (and he wanted to) – I’d have him on board like a shot!

  • Mick Fealty

    BTW, anyone to choose their own Executive?

  • Michael Shilliday

    the DUP letting Sinn Fein have education by not picking it?! Surely not!

  • Mick Fealty

    Mark picks out that dilemma in the first part of the article. Tough call, perhaps. Though I’m not sure that without some means of holding ministers accountable for overspend they are going to want the poisoned chalice of Finance.

    Everyone else to make spending hay at your expense?

  • yer_man

    Michael,
    Yet another insightful comment. Tell us why then, when the UUP had first pick in 1998 they didnt choose health or education?

    Also, accountability measures introduced could prevent abuses of power in Ministries so it would be less of a problem.

    But then Michael, you only wanted Martin in Government when he had guns, when he doesnt you’re going to sit in opposition is that not correct???

  • Michael Shilliday

    you had third pick, you didn’t pick them either!

    Sam Foster is a very succinct man – “there were no guns, hence there is no government”

  • yer_man

    Michael,
    Well done Sherlock, the DUP didnt pick Health or Education – therefore I could not criticise Ulster Unionists for not actually holding the post of Health Minister or Education Minister.

    What I can do however, is criticise a party which allowed representatives, still allied to terrorist parties into a position where they could hold any Ministry. After all, had the DUP chosen Health and Education, it wouldnt have meant SF held no Ministries, they would still have had their two picks, leaving them in charge of two other Departments where they could have taken their decisions totally in isolation with the Assembly powerless to do anything about it.

    Sam Foster – succint? I had the privildge of being in front of the telly at times when that wonderful (no longer with us) TV programme, Stormont Live, was on the air. I dont happen to remember him being terrible succinct at Minister’s Question Time. Well, he used to do a just about passable attempt at stalling until a mysterious piece of paper was thrust into his hand, presumably scribbled quickly by an able civil servant.

    To be fair though, the letter was of a slightly better literary quality than some of the drivel we’ve had to endure from our Trimble Youth letter writing campaign, or maybe they are just getting more practiced.

  • Ciaran

    Mick, the ‘poisoned chalice’ of Finance..

    Given that the Assembly is firstly allocated an overall budget from westminster and secondly Ministers must have Assembly approval for Budget and Legislation is that a fair description? What mechanisms are used in the Dail or Westminster for overspend?

    Also with Water Rates, I’d be surprised if the Regional Development pick isn’t further down the scale.

  • Warm Storage

    Surely it’s a bit too soon for Caitriona Ruane to become a Minister. I thought Conor Murphy was being groomed.

  • Davros

    The gender issue WS ?

  • Warm Storage

    I’d considered that. In my fantasy Executive, I have her as the junior Minister to the DFM.

    Not that I’d have the nerve to be the first to post it on here!

    Regional Development as the last pick is a cert, I think. And as it’s the DUP’s choice, it’ll be Jeffrey’s “reward”.

  • davidbrew

    FM-rev Dr RWT McCrea
    Junior FM and hymnbook carrier-Mark Durkan
    DFM -a suitably decommisioned Barry McElduff
    Junior DFM and teaboy-D Trimble
    Defence and the marine -Edwin Poots
    Chancellor of the exchequer-Billy the potato
    Health-anyone of the grey, interchangeably dull SDLP
    Ill health, and post-mortality related issues-Michael McGimski
    Aggyculture- Lady Sylvia ( on permanent loan from Westminster-well until the next general election)
    Ambassador to the Holy See-Peter Robinson
    Chancellor of the Duchy of Bangor-P Weir
    Education-Davy Dikshunary
    Minister for terrorist financial emoluments-too many candidates, so a rota system for IRA Army Council members

  • Mick Fealty

    Prize for the most apposite – to Mr Brewster!

  • Mick Fealty

    Anyone else want to take it away from him?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Here’s Suzanne Breen’s fantasy executive, from the News Letter.

    Sussing Out Candidates For Seats In Cabinet
    Suzanne Breen

    Thursday 21st October 2004

    Our MLAs probably lie awake at night mulling over who will get what.

    Paul Murphy says a political settlement could be imminent. That might be a tad optimistic, but there’s no doubting the inevitability of a deal, be it weeks or months away.

    So who will run Northern Ireland? A few days ago, I joined several other journalists on the BBC’s Politics Show to appoint our fantasy cabinet. After some post-programme revisions, following consultation with those in the know, a likely team is taking shape in my mind.

    It must be stressed that, apart from the first two ministers, what follows is conjecture. No-one definitely knows what the parties will do on the day. If one guess is wrong, all after it will be wrong, too.

    Ian Paisley as First Minister is a dead cert. He’ll love every minute of it. Those civil servants, with decades of too much power and too little accountability, better watch out. Dr Paisley will shake up the whole shebang.

    Martin McGuinness is a safe bet for Deputy First Minister. Gerry Adams has greater ambitions – the Irish presidency in 2011.

    Peter Robinson will be the next DUP nomination. He’ll opt for Finance and Personnel. Some DUP-ers argue that Education should be their first choice. It’s an emotional issue for many unionists, dismayed the ministry fell to Sinn Fein last time.

    But that would be a politically immature choice. Finance and Personnel controls every department’s budget; the DUP knows its importance.

    Sinn Fein’s next nominee will be Mitchel McLaughlin. An increased profile would be useful in the race for Mark Durkan’s Westminster seat in Foyle. McLaughlin will choose either Trade and Industry or Regional Development. The latter has more power and a bigger budget.

    The transport element brings a crossborder dimension, too.

    But McLaughlin could choose trade. A flurry of post-deal investment is likely and Sinn Fein would relish job creation announcements. It’s just what they need to convince the southern electorate they can be trusted with the economy.

    The UUP will be next, and its first nominee will surely be the loyal Michael McGimpsey, not Sir Reg Empey.

    David Trimble himself won’t take a ministry. He isn’t cut out to serve in an administration run by anyone else – let alone Dr Paisley.

    McGimpsey’s personal choice would be Regional Development, but he’ll take Education because of its symbolic significance.

    The SDLP follows next. Mark Durkan will be torn between Regional Development and Health. Health is a poisoned chalice, but it’s big budget and a real challenge to a policy person like Durkan.

    He could make his mark there.

    Back to the DUP; Nigel Dodds will take Regional Development if it’s still available. Sinn Fein has next pick and, ever conscious of the gender balance, will nominate Catriona Ruane, who needs to raise her profile for the Westminster battle in South Down.

    If it’s available, she’s likely to go for Social Development. It includes responsibility for housing, important for a party with a strong urban, working-class base.

    It’s now the UUP’s second go and Empey will be nominated in the interests of internal party politics. He could choose the Environment. The DUP is next, and Jeffrey Donaldson will be the nominee.

    If Agriculture’s still on the table, he’ll grab it. The rural Protestant vote is all-important. The DUP got grief for passing over this ministry last time and has plenty of expert agricultural advisors.

    The SDLP is next and it could well be Patricia Lewsley choosing Education and Learning. That leaves Culture, Arts and Leisure for a DUP woman.

    For the DUP not to include a woman in its five-strong ministerial team would send out an appalling message, particularly when the women are all capable.

    The DUP’s problem is that it has so many able MLAs to choose from. Gregory Campbell and Sammy Wilson are options, though Wilson will only be nominated if Education is an option. Ian jnr is another possibility.

    Sinn Fein and the DUP get a junior ministry each in the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister. Sinn Fein is likely to choose Conor Murphy, an up- and- coming MLA looking a raised profile for the Westminster race in Newry and Armagh.

    The DUP’s choice could be Ian Paisley jnr or Arlene Foster if neither secures a senior ministry. However, if Dr Paisley decided only to serve as First Minister for a year or two, he could choose Robinson for this job, positioning him perfectly to eventually take-over. This would mean another DUP MLA in Cabinet who would otherwise be excluded.

    All in all, it’ll be fascinating. If the bookmakers open a book on the likely Executive, expect a few politicians sneaking in with their tenners.