Election to be held in early March

Although our readers felt that our politicians should just get on with it, it seems the weight of opinion within Sinn Fein and the DUP seems in favour of an early Assembly election, to rubber stamp the outcome (whatever it might be) of the St Andrews Agreement.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Henry94

    I think the assembly elections should be synched with the european elections.

    Then people can vote for two powerless institutions at the same time.

  • Mickhall


    Would this mean the SF leadership would not take this matter of policing to a special Ard Fhei’s, instead leaving it to the electorate to rubber stamp the SF leaderships endorsement of policing etc?

    best regards

  • Alan

    “Then people can vote for two powerless institutions at the same time. ”

    Neither of them are by any means powerless. They are also both potentially real instruments for progressive change given visionary leadership and a committment to work a democratic system. Neither DUP nor SF dogmatisms seem fit for that purpose.

  • Henry94


    The Sinn Fein leadership can’t offer an endorsement of policing to the electorate without the agreement of an Ard Fheis.

    Opposition to policing is fundamentally opposition to the agreement itself. Nobody really claims that the PNSI are just the RUC re-badged.

    The issue is the right of a police force that in run by the British to police Irish people in Ireland.

    The solution is to have it run by the people who are elected by the people who are policed.

    It is a big psychological jump rather than a big political jump because the logic of the agreement makes it inevitable.

  • Yokel

    Bear in mind Henry its also policing British people as well though I get your point, proper local accountability and oversight.

    The difficulty is that the people most likely to want political policing are in fact, politicians who in turn need a brake on them.

  • páid

    Elections are being offered as a carrot to SF and the DUP to sign up.

    The assumption is that both the DUP and SF would gain in the elections.

    But if there is no agreement by a week on Friday, there will be no elections.

    I think the assumption is flawed, and the DUP and SF secretly realise this. Bob McCartney and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh are siren voices to very conservative organisations. Therefore, methinks, no agreement, no elections.

  • willowfield

    It would have been a joke if a referendum had been held. We already had a referendum on the Agreement in 1998.

    Not sure why an Assembly election is needed either, mind.

  • David

    Meaningless elections. The govenment refused to go to the people when there was no executive formed before (despite rules that said there should have been elections). This is now over, gone and sadly in the eyes of the public ‘good riddance’.

  • Henry94


    A referendum will give DUP supporters a second chance to vote for the Good Friday Agreement.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    If anyone, Unionist or Nationalist or whatever, doesn’t agree with the SAA then who exactly do they vote for?

  • Elvis Parker

    “We already had a referendum on the Agreement in 1998.”
    To be fair Willowfield that is the weakest thing you have said in a long time.
    I mean 1998 is quite some time ago.
    After all SF won the elections in 1918…..

  • willowfield

    Good points Henry93 and Tochais Siora!

  • nettlefield

    Seamus Mallon made a comment on Radio Ulster about the timing of his resignation being the start of the week because apparently Peter Hain will announce some legislation near the end of the week which will include an announcement of an election in March.

    Personally I think this is a massive waste of public money and I predict a very low turn out, even lower than 2005. The fact that the new canvass for the electoral register has gone worse than it has for years shows the general public are fed up. Here’s to another election with the extremes doing well. God help this country.

  • willowfield

    Yep, it’ll be a low turn-out for sure, nettlefield.

    How many times do they expect us to vote on the same issues?

  • mark


    Recent elections have been very important. They show a shift in political thinking across both the Nationalist and Unionist traditions.

    In 2005 both the DUP and SF had their highest ever number of voters after years of growth.

    Registers may be falling, turnout lower. Recent elections show those who vote wish different people to represent them and turn out for them in bigger numbers than ever before..

    Those that don’t register or vote don’t count.

    Those that care have changed the political landscape and as such the elections have defined the deals that have been cut or still need to be done.

    It may all seem pointless to you but I think it is very important that we have seen statistical rejection of the Nationalist and Unionist community dominance by the UUP and SDLP.

    We may be agreeing mostly the same deal again but most people are saying they want SF and the DUP to lead on it.

    That’s important and democracy and those that don’t turn up don’t count. Or tough. The reduced registers haven’t affected the growth of SF and the DUP. Only the SDLP and UUP are shedding voters like an autumn tree but they are both the parties that pushed to make voter registration harder so slap it up them.

  • nettlefield

    “they are both the parties that pushed to make voter registration harder so slap it up them”

    How so? I get really fed up with people whinging about how hard it is to register to vote. They deliver a form to your door, you fill it in, they pick it up again. Its hardly very taxing, the only activity demanded from voters is that they lift a pen!

    Some countries such as Australia make voting compulsory. Now you can still express your will if you don’t want to vote by going in and spoiling your vote. However people died to give us all a vote, it is spitting on their grave to not use your privilege.

    Btw, the area in which registration is lowest is West Belfast