“a qualified intention to proceed..”

The Secretary of State for Wales etc, Peter Hain, hinted at the fudge ahead while appearing on the Sunday Politics Show, his second Sunday appearance in a row and, as with last week’s appearance on ITV’s Sunday Edition, the focus was more about his ongoing campaign for another job, as was his recent Sunday Times interview… ANYway, what previously had been referred to as SF and DUP nominations have now become an indication of their choices for first and deputy first ministers, the BBC report points out that will fall short of the formal nomination and assembly vote previously suggested [pdf file] – while the DUP’s Peter Robinson, on Saturday, characterised it as “a qualified intention to proceed when all the conditions are in place”. Indeed..

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  • joeCanuck

    looks like they will never get the wheels on the wagon

  • Dr Snuggles

    The “indication” process is fair enough, not least because there is the small matter of an Assembly election before the First and Deputy First Ministers take office.

    Obviously, everyone’s money is on the DUP and Sinn Féin maintaining their postions as the two largest parties in the Assembly, but it is surely pre-empting the electorate to install “official” First and Deputy First Ministers (Designate) before that election.

    As I say, not many doubt that the status quo will continue after the election, but as a point of democratic principle, it is up to the voters to decide who the largest parties will be in a new Assembly. That mandate won’t exist until after 7 March 2007.

  • Keith M

    It looks like first round to the DUP, with no formal nominations of FM and DFM.

  • Smithsonian

    Keith M
    Oh thank goodness for that, for a minute there I was worried that the DUP had botched the St. Andrews negoitations but following your post I now realise that I need not have feared. It was all part of a cunning plan.

    Much encouraged, I can hardly wait for the Assembly to get up and running so that our politicans can demonstate their ability with some real issues.

  • Crataegus

    This is fast becoming an utter farce.

  • austin

    ‘This is fast becoming an utter farce’

    This thread or the negotiations, Crataegus?

  • Truth and Justice

    NO fear the DUP know what they are doing and they are running rings round Sinn Fein!

  • joeCanuck

    what planet are you living on TandJ?

    If the GFA was Sunningdale for slow UUP learners, then the SAA is the GFA for slow DUP learners.

  • Smithsonian

    The DUP may well be going round in circles but I am not confident that they know what they are doing.

  • USA

    T and J,
    You really are a funny guy.
    JoeCanuck is absolutely right.

  • mcgrath

    Thanks for the colloquium T&J. Anything substantial to add?

    Who was it that said “Never trust anyone who reads from just one book”?

  • mcgrath

    Beware the man of one book – Thomas Aquinas.

    I had to google that one.

  • mcgrath


    “If there had been no deadline, the argument goes, then there would have been no St Andrews, nor the latest legislation changing the Stormont rules and devolution would have been an even more distant prospect.”

    So what happens with the next deadline? Hain has lost all his “bluff”.

  • Crataegus


    NO fear the DUP know what they are doing and they are running rings round Sinn Fein!

    Who has been reading the Fairy Tales, once upon a time in the land of mist and legend came an odd band of unlikely travellers who set forth to slay the big green ogre is about as true as the above statement.

    The only reason we are in this farcical mess is because the big man cannot be seen to support the Good Friday Agreement so he has to have another agreement. But of course the real affront is that we are going to rush into an election which is unlikely to produce a working government. It is a complete waste of time.

    What exactly is the hurry? Is there apprehension that if we take our time the electorate may realise that they are being sold a goat? What happened to all the bluster from Hain? No Executive, no pay, no Assembly, I know my grasp of English is poor but someone please explain for I am utterly confused!

    Anyone from New Labour out there take my advice and don’t elevate Hain he is already operating well beyond his ability. Look at his record in NI and reflect on his ability. If he were an employee of mine he would be down at the job centre long ago. It is an utter mess.

  • David

    This must now rank as one of the most pathetic political farces around. Just what does ‘Deadline’ mean? Absolutely nothing. The Secretary of State seems not to understand that to maintain credibility one has to ‘Say what you mean and mean what you say’.
    Please close the farce down. It has run its course and frankly no-one outside small political elites cares. It does more harm than good (especially to Peter Hain’s career).
    Only when deadlines count can we progress. That has gone. And so should thee so called St Andrews Agreement (agreement between who? Certainly no-one in N. Ireland).

  • Aaron McDaid

    SF should say that they’re not having anything to do with this farce until the DUP meet with them for direct face-to-face discussions.

    It’s all very well discussing the sequencing of policing and so on, but if the pretend government parties can’t even take the first step and meet each other then the whole thing should be pulled.

    SF should pull the plug unless they get something, at the very least a no-preconditions meeting with the DUP.

  • Ian

    Anybody read Mark Devenport’s latest analysis (“Big picture trumps tough talking”) on the BBC website?

    A couple of quotes therin point to a possible way out of the chicken-and-egg situation regarding the devolution of policing and justice powers.

    ” the precise model of any policing and justice ministry is inextricably linked to when such a department might come into existence. ”

    “The political realities make it likely that any future minister (or ministers) subjected to cross-community vote would be from the centre ground than either of the two dominant parties. ”

    I wonder what the “two dominant parties” would make of the suggestion? It would certainly provide for a more comprehensive degree of power-sharing (i.e. DUP and SF hold the FM/DFM posts, UUP and SDLP get Policing & Justice).

    I’d be interested to hear the views of SF supporers here on Slugger. If the SDLP had the Policing portfolio, that would appear to tick the boxes of removal of powers from British control and accountability of the police service to (wider) nationalism. Could SF run with that – maybe if the arrangement is time-limited for the span of the next Assembly, and the P&J ministries revert to d’Hont distribution after the 2011 elections?

    I suspect the sticking point would be the DUP’s attitude to the quid pro quo i.e. in order to keep SF’s mitts off the Policing Ministry, the DUP may end up having to concede the Justice post to the UUP. That would give Empey & co a leg-up just when Paisley is hoping to finish them off.

    After all, despite the DUP’s slogan “Smash Sinn Fein”, the last few years have appeared to demonstrate that Paisley’s greatest ambition is to smash the UUP.

  • Ian

    I missed a minor but salient point from my last post:

    If DUP and SF get the FM/DFM posts, whilst UUP and SDLP get Policing & Justice, that may be a permutation that meets the “community confidence” threshold, thus allowing for an EARLIER transfer of powers.

  • Truth and Justice

    Look Guys its quite simple the game is who ever blinks first comes out with the blame, neither the DUP or Sinn Fein will blink first and we will end up with an agreement its so simple it may just happen, the reality is lets not give the DUP and Sinn Fein the chance to say No

  • Truth and Justice

    You are akll forgeting the simple truth of it, all the partied , Alliance, SDLP, UUP, SF and the DUP have given a yes in private they all support they St Andrews Agreement, all this negitave stuff is a joke and simple gives them the oppertunity to back out lets not do that!

  • Crataegus

    T & J

    No you miss the point, or rather several points

    1 If you can’t form an Executive now why should we assume that post an election we will be able to form one?

    2 Given that we cannot form an Executive and the SoS’s previous statements on the continuance of the Assembly why are MLA’s still in employment?

    3 We voted for the Good Friday Agreement. It was overwhelmingly endorsed. Since that date there have been a myriad of deals and side deals, lies and half truths. Holding an election is not the same as holding a referendum it does not validate the changes and it does not give the electorate the opportunity to express their views.

    4 Why are we bringing forward the date for an election given 1 above. Why March, why the mad rush? Surely better to allow the time necessary to tidy up the outstanding issues (whilst on benefit) so the electorate can clearly see there will or will not be an Executive which includes SF and the DUP. If it is impossible to do so by May 2008 then the electorate would be going to the polls in the full knowledge of the consequence of their voting decisions. It would remove any tendency for wishful thinking. Equally it would give time for meaningful progress and enable those that have progressed to reap the benefit.

    5 Currently what will we be voting for in March? Work in progress? Or is it simply an opportunity for the DUP and SF to attempt to increase their representation, is that part of their deal? Why March what is wrong with May? What is the hurry?????

    The course we are currently on is merely a distraction and gets several players of the hook. Indeed it could well delay meaningful progress for a further 5 years it is releasing any potential for exerting pressure in the immediate future.

  • mcgrath


    We must therefor assume that the Hain et al; threat of a plan B carries as much weight as the threats of salary suspensions.

    Any references to a greener plan B are only offered to keep republicans placated.

    Lets face it, another few years of direct rule is the only real possibility. The next elections will prove to be nothing. The DUP will continue to sit on their hands, and as a result, Westminster will bring about several pieces of legislation that Unionists certainly will not like.