The beginning of the end?

My thoughts on this morning’s proceedings are now up on the Guardian site. The atmosphere was polite and light. The Assembly staff glad to see the old place filled with activity again. What it means will not be obvious in any short term outcomes, but there’s no one talking about pressing ‘nuclear buttons’.


  • Pete Baker

    I suspect the atmosphere may have a lot to do with the simple realisation, by everyone bar the overly-optimistic, that the next six weeks is all about the optics.

    Their eyes are on November and avoiding any potential blame for now.

  • Keith

    It certainly seemed that it was a day of going through the motions, even the slight controversy of Ervine didn’t upset the waters too much.

  • missfitz

    Something like the ‘Stormont Shuffle’ Pete?

    Sounded very touchy feely, and I think there is little doubt that the Ballymena murder had a sobering influence on people.

    Who knows, maybe it wont last, but the future is sectarian if we cant nip it now.

    BTW, was not impressed by Suzanne Breen’s piece on Talkback. She was on the other day saying she hadnt slept in days as she lives in the Holyland. She sounded grumpy as f@*% and wanted nowt to do with a Stormont government or any other government come to that! Worth a listen, if you get a chance.

  • Pete Baker

    Something like that, missfitz.

    SF are boycotting the proposed debates on everything bar the nominations to an executive.. where I’d suggest they’ve already secured the rights to the footage of Ian Paisley saying ‘No’ in response to Gerry’s proposal – and I’d expect that footage to re-appear in future election broadcasts.. the UUP might even have slot for it.

    So, no public shows of dissent and/or slips in the rhetoric from SF within the chamber.

    Possible stormy exchanges between the Unionist parties though.. even with everyone on best behaviour for the cameras.

    Tight PR control is the standing order for the foreseeable future – i.e until the deadline really starts to close in.

    Coming to Stormont in September – The Hain Assembly : Mission Impossible II

  • missfitz

    Iandiana Paisley and the parliament of doom?

    Or is that trying too hard?

  • Pete Baker

    Maybe just a little bit 😉

  • Rubicon

    “Their eyes are on November and avoiding any potential blame for now.”

    Did somebody forgot to tell Reg that?

  • Rubicon

    Interesting piece Mike – particularly, “Party insiders claim the party was compelled by the assembly house rules to name him now, at the beginning of the assembly (when there is little prospect of an executive any time soon).”

    If this is what they thought then they were badly advised.

    The rule of party counts being locked to the seats declared on the 1st day of the Assembly applied to the “old” Assembly – but not to the Hain-Assembly. The Hain-Assembly allows for new groupings/parties to form at anytime between now and Nov. 24th once the First & Deputy First Minister is elected and Ministers appointed (using party strengths at that time). This change was made to the NI Bill 2006 (now Act) during its passage through the Lords (

    Now – here comes the REAL HOWLER – the government accepted the amendment that was tabled by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass!!

  • Alan

    I’m sure the UU’s thought it better to get the flak over Ervine out of the way now, rather than in the 72 hour Assembly session on the 25 November.

  • Rubicon

    I doubt that Alan – Mike’s information seems more plausible. Reg need not have waited until the 11th hour – but he could have consulted with his Council and grassroots before making this jump. It smacks of many things – and being hurried is one of them.

    As it stands it doesn’t the ‘pact’ doesn’t even appear to have been communicated to their own peers. What kind of party does not keep an eye on NI legislation as it passes through Westminster? Having failed to do this they also failed to read the Standing Orders of the Assembly.

  • Rubicon

    I’d no write-off the existence of sexism among UUP MLAs – it most certainly is there. I’m not sure it was the reason behind not including Sylvia in the consultation since it would appear that UUP peers in the Lords weren’t consulted either (

    It seems clear that Reg ignored what was happening in Westminster.

    There was no reason for the UUP to form a “group” with the PUP at this time. If the motive was to put pressure on the UVF to cease its armed campaign by tempting them with improved representation in the political process (as Reg has again claimed this morning) then it was senseless to make the deal now.

    If Reg was pressured by the media as to the TIMING of his decision we’d be closer to learning the truth; a cack-handed attempt to gain power (without gaining it), done for the wrong reasons, done in the wrong way and at the wrong time.

  • Rubicon

    Sorry – just posted the above on the wrong thread!