Nominations for the Policing Board.. deadline 1 April..

The BBC are reporting that, despite the previous somewhat feverish speculation by, among others, their own Mark Devenport, not to mention a silver-lining sighted by the Daily Ireland, as noted previously by Mick, the Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland Peter Hain, has asked the four main parties for nominations to the Policing Board, 4 from the DUP, 2 each from the UUP and the SDLP.. and 2 from SF. The reality is, though, that SF are extremely unlikely to take those seats on the Board.. and with the Assembly suspended, given the legislation concerning the Policing Board, Peter Hain actually has a fairly free hand.. if he can ride out the inevitable criticism. Update More criticism noted here


  • Ian

    It appears that the NIO are rewarding the DUP for their homophobic attitudes. The expulsion of Paul Berry from the DUP (because of unsubstatiated allegations regarding homosexual activity) means that the DUP would only be entitled to three nominees to the Policing Board under the d’Hont system, if the Assembly were still sitting. Yet it appears that the Secretary of State still intends to allow the DUP to nominate four members (i.e. their previous entitlement before their Assembly group was reduced by one).

    The Policing Board is supposed to regulate the PSNI’s response to hate crimes, amongst other things. Given the DUP’s well-publicised historic and current views on homosexuality (from the ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy’ campaign to the recent withhunt of Mr Berry), for the NIO to appoint DUP members over and above their d’Hont entitlement is surely going to undermine the work of the Policing Board in this important area.

  • Pete Baker


    “It appears that the NIO are rewarding the DUP for their homophobic attitudes.”

    That’s a bit of a leap in logic.. if I can call it that.

    And as I pointed out, the legislation leaves Hain a free hand in terms of who he appoints, although he has previously stated he would follow the d’Hont system for the political representatives.

  • Ian


    I know that Hain has a free hand – he could appoint 19 monkeys if he wished. But, as you say, he stated he would follow the d’Hont system for the political representatives.

    My point is that he ISN’T doing that. Under d’Hont, the DUP and SF are entitled to 3 nominees each, and the UUP and SDLP 2 each. But he’s offering the DUP, alone amongst the parties, one extra place.

    If he were also to offer an extra place to the UUP and SDLP, pre-empting SF’s refusal to take part, then that would be fair enough.

    Obviously he can’t do that (yet) as the NIO have to be seen to go through the charade of inviting SF to nominate even though they know they’ll refuse – except they’re not even doing that properly otherwise they’d be offering 3 places to SF.

    Instead they’ve gone for some perverse half-way house whereby the DUP get one extra place over and above their d’Hont entitlement whilst the other parties don’t. And on what basis? They can’t argue that it’s on the basis of the 2003 Assembly results, as at that time Jeffrey Donaldson and two other Assembly members were elected for the UUP, not DUP.

    The only explanation is that the NIO have been caught on the hop by the DUP’s expulsion of Paul Berry, which was done purely on the basis of his homosexual tendencies (perceived or otherwise). In my opinion it would be natural justice if as a result of their big0ted attitude the DUP were to forego one place on the Policing Board (and for that matter the Executive – can you imagine if that were to get up and running in the near future that SF would settle for only two Ministers + DFM?)

    However, natural justice is irrelevant – the key point is that the DUP’s Assembly party no longer has the numbers to entitle it to 4 Policing Board members. Obviously as previously mentioned Hain can do what he likes since the Assembly is suspended, but if he doesn’t either:

    (1) nominate on the basis of d’Hont, or

    (2) allocate one extra place to all three other parties (DUP, UUP and SDLP),

    then he is effectively favouring the DUP over the other parties, thereby condoning the DUP’s homophobic attitudes and behaviour.

  • Pete Baker


    Sorry to nit-pick.. but, in your eagerness to present your argument regarding the DUP, you forgot to mention that Berry resigned.. he wasn’t actually expelled.. I know it’s nit-picking.

    Why Peter Hain has continued with the allocations according to the results of the last Assembly elections is, though, a matter for conjecture.. put simply, you may believe the connection you make exists, but you don’t have any basis for your allegations of the motive for that.

  • Ian

    > Sorry to nit-pick.. but, in your eagerness to present your argument regarding the DUP, you forgot to mention that Berry resigned.. he wasn’t actually expelled.. I know it’s nit-picking.

    They tried to suspend him, he had to seek an injunction to stop them doing so, from which he now faces legal fees. They effectively forced him out. Anyway, that doesn’t change the arithmetic.

    > Why Peter Hain has continued with the allocations according to the results of the last Assembly elections is, though, a matter for conjecture..

    You missed my point again. There might have been a semblance of logic to that, but he isn’t doing that either – since Donaldson, Foster and Beare were UUP representatives at the time of the election, the DUP should still only get 3 places on that basis. I think the UUP should be offered 3 and SF 2 if that were the basis.

    There doesn’t seem to be any logic to the DUP 4, Others 2-2-2 configuration (except maybe because that sounds like a football formation and it’s a World Cup year??)

  • Pete Baker


    I’ve added the link to the previous article by Mark Devenport to the original post… not that it directly addresses your point.

    But yes, I know what you’re saying about the Assembly election.. arguably, and this is mere speculation, the NIO are going on the figures as they stood at the beginning of the interview process for the independent members of the Board.

    Unless the NIO makes a statement to clarify their position we remain in the dark.. again.

    Mind you, although SF and the Alliance party appear to be adamant that the DUP should only get 3 seats, Mark Devenport noted then that the DUP were equally adamant that they would get 4 seats.. in any case, I’ve yet to see the actual arithmetic produced by anyone.. just saying..

  • Stephen Copeland

    I have a problem with the maths on this one. Maybe some-one knows more than I do?

    D’Hondt allocates places as follows:

    A party’s total vote is divided by a certain figure, which increases as it wins more seats.
    As that dividing figure increases, the party’s total in succeeding rounds gets smaller. This allows parties with lower initial totals to win seats.
    In the first round of vote-counting, the dividing figure is one and therefore has no effect.
    However, the figure in subsequent rounds is the total number of seats gained plus one.

    The 10 highest scores win places (on the policing board, in the eexecutive, …)

    By my reckoning there is therefore a dead heat for the 10th place, if Berry is excluded, between the DUP (with three seats already, the score is 32/(3+1)), SF (24/(2+1)) and the UUP (24/(2+1) – i.e. a score of 8 in each case.

    Who gets to be Solomon in this case? Obviously, with Berry in the mix, the DUP have a right to their fourth seat, but since he is no longer a DUP member are the rules being correctly applied?

  • Pete Baker

    Given an equal score for the final seat, Stephen, I’d have to suspect that the party with the largest number of representatives [in this case the DUP] would be entitled to that final seat?

  • Ian

    I’ve just done the maths on the back of an envelope (I thought I’d better check my elaborate argument isn’t based on a mathematically shaky foundation). With 9 seats allocated (3 DUP, 2 SF/UUP/SDLP), the DUP’s 32 ‘points’ and SF/UUP’s 24 have all been reduced to 8 ‘points’. So it gets complicated. I think it comes down to number of first preference votes for each party at the last Assembly election. But whether votes cast for the 3 turncoats are allocated to the DUP or UUP I’m not sure. It’s also unclear whether the tie-off is only between SF and the UUP since the DUP are already one nominee ahead at this stage. I guess the disagreement over who gets the final place comes down to different interpretations of the fine nuances of d’Hont between the parties.

    Anyway, at the end of the day I think Hain will appoint one extra seat to the UUP and SDLP so as not upset the overall balance of ‘political’ independent members vs ‘independent’ independent members, but the way he’s gone about it (i.e. without giving an explanation as to the allocations at this stage) could give rise to accusations that he’s pandering to the DUP, perhaps in a foolish attempt to get them to co-operate in reinstating the GFA institutions.

    Actually, I’m surprised he didn’t continue with the NIO’s ongoing twin policies of showing contempt for the non-Assembly and filling quangos with compliant polling-booth rejects, by appointing 19 members of the Alliance party. (That is if there are 19 people in the Alliance party??)

    … and thinking about that last paragraph has just inspired me to come up with another witticism. You know how Oscar Wilde described fox-hunters as “the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable”. Well, it’s just struck me that Lord Arderdice (until recently a prominent member of the Alliance party), in his role on the IMC (which has attempted to usurp the role of the IIDC in claiming that the IRA is still holding onto weaponry), is acting as, wait for it…

    “the unelectable in pursuit of the undetectable”.

    I’ll get me coat.

  • Stephen Copeland

    “the unelectable in pursuit of the undetectable”


    I think you’re right about the Alliance Party’s membership. They’re so thin on the ground that they must all be on so many quango’s they don’t have time to get to the golf course any more.

    Except, of course, IJP, who has yet to get his share. But I’m sure it’s coming.