tried again, failed again, failed better?

As I suggested might happen, Hain’s Committee the Preparation for Government Committee has tried again.. and failed again to select a chairman.. but they may have failed better. Or as the BBC report puts it “The Preparation for Government Committee remains deadlocked but there is more chance of reaching compromise”. Same time tomorrow, then?The options for a chairman of the committee under consideration are –

One idea under consideration is allowing the two deputy speakers Jim Wells of the DUP and Francie Molloy of Sinn Fein to share the post.

Another possible option is to allow NI Secretary Peter Hain to make an external appointment.

Also discussed was the temporary solution that Alliance, Ulster Unionists and SDLP rotate the chair for an initial period until the issue is resolved.

The speaker’s office is also under pressure to resolve the issue.

And they’ll be reconvening to try again, etc., tomorrow..

Meanwhile in the assembly, the Speaker has been carefully explaining to the UUP leader Reg Empey what was actually in the Northern Ireland Act that brought about the reconvening of the current asembly:

Mrs Bell explained that, under the Northern Ireland Act, Mr Hain had the power to refer whatever business he saw fit to be debated in the Assembly on the recommendation of the Business Committee.

She said there were three options open to the UUP leader.

He could take the matter up directly with Mr Hain, get his party`s representative on the Assembly Business Committee to propose that the committee makes a suitable recommendation to Mr Hain, or, thirdly, could table a motion for a debate on the issue urging the Northern Ireland Secretary to refer the power to decide when debates should take place and on what issues to MLAs.

She added: “Although such a motion would have to negotiate the very processes the member would like to change, ultimately the decision will be the Secretary of State`s to make.”



  • Pat Mc Larnon

    “This Assembly is the Assembly of people elected by the democratic vote of the people of this province,” the North Antrim MP said.

    “They speak for the people of this province. Why should this Assembly suddenly be turned off because the Secretary of State has other views that he wants to impose on members of this Assembly?”

    Interesting quote from Paisley, the man with the self declared aim of destroying the GFA and thus the Assembly itself. The fact that he gets away with this drivel, without too much questioning from within the unionist community, only magnifies the ineptitude of the UUP.

  • English

    I can see it now come the deadline, Paisley stating that ‘Hain shut our Assembly down the scoundral!’ It really is playschool politics here, isn’t it?

  • Greenflag

    If at first you don’t succeed by all means try again .

    But after 40 years of failure perhaps it’s time to try something else ? No point in being a fool about it . HMG however seems to enjoy paying for these performing clowns:(

  • Pete Baker

    “Why should this Assembly suddenly be turned off because the Secretary of State has other views that he wants to impose on members of this Assembly?”

    It is an interesting quote, Pat. Primarily because of Hain’s assurance that he would listen to the decisions of this assembly, however semi-conscious it is, as long as there was cross-community agreement in it.

    So why has he not been setting business for debate? a power he took onto himself in the Northern Ireland Act?

    Well, Sinn Féin’s boycotting of those debates seems a likely candidate as a reason.

    As with Hain’s backing down in the face of Paisley’s threat to boycott the Hain Committee.. Hain can’t afford to antagonise one of the two parties he wants to sign on the dotted line.. eventually – and agreeing to any decision of an assembly without Sinn Féin’s participation would, I have no doubt, antagonise that particular party.

    Then there’s the suggestion by Martin McGuinness that, at the end of June, SF will decide whether the DUP are serious about an Executive.. which would seem to be an attempt to set a new deadline.

  • Rubicon

    Paying too much attention to the “circus” antics can easily distract from what appears to be the main theme driving events.

    The DUP is playing hard-ball – it doesn’t want the PfG Committee to have any teeth. If it did their private agreements reached in Leeds Castle could come undone and so we have the current nonsense. To be fair though, do any of the parties know what this PfG Committee’s terms of reference are?

    Each party’s participation in the PfG Committee seems to be driven more by not wanting to take the blame for not participating than by any desire to do ‘business’. Who could blame them when there isn’t a business agenda anyway?

    The British Government needs to make a decision; is the DUP with its private arrangements going to do the decent thing or not? If the answer is less than “certainly” then it’s time for them to declare all previous deals off and start a process that might deliver something by Nov. 24th – with or without the DUP.

    The electorate here are saying they’re sick and tired of this nonsense – and who could blame them (if it were true). But, we’ve got the politicians we elected.

    If the DUP (and now SF with their latest threat of further disengaging) want to play hardball – fine. The British Government can too (and to a much lesser extent the Irish Government). Tough decisions don’t need to await the 24th.

    The British direct rule threats aren’t being taken seriously – by parties or electorate. NI responds negatively to threats – as today’s vote in the Assembly demonstrated where there was unanimous agreement on a reduced rate for manufacturing (less SF’s absence).

    Fine – but the SoS has made it clear that the money will have to be found from elsewhere. Where? Do YOU want it added to the bills about to come through your door?

    Think on – this circus has a ringmaster – it’s YOU!