Acceptance and non acceptance…

Happily the Hansard from Friday is now available at the transitional Assembly site. For the record, here are the speeches pertaining to the nominations. Much of Dr Paisley’s speech is cribbed from his Commons speech on the Tuesday before.

his statement is one of the most important that I have made in this Chamber since I was first elected to the old Northern Ireland Parliament. It will be solemn, short, simple and straight.

Our Province is facing a most important crisis, and I pray God that it will make the right choice in this hour of crisis. There is never anything easy in decision-making, and today we stand in need of divine strength. May almighty God defend the right.

Before us is a plan that has two main pillars. One is power sharing, and the other is total recognition of, and support for, the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Everyone in a position of political power must decide whether he or she will support both these principles. My party, and all the other main political parties, have stated likewise, but until now Sinn Féin has failed to do so. It has, rather, equivocated, hesitated and by various means obstructed progress and continues to blame my party for the delay. My party has been straightforward and faithful in its stand.

When Sinn Féin has fulfilled its obligations with regard to the police, the courts, the rule of law and other commitments, then — and only then — can progress be made. Delivery is in the hands of Sinn Féin: there can and will be no movement until it faces up to, and signs up to, its obligations. As I said in the House of Commons this week:

“I am a man of plain speech. People know that I try to keep my word as my bond. I am not interested in any word games tonight. I am interested in peace in the country that I love — peace for its families and its children. When I spoke at St. Andrews I said:

‘The DUP has been consistent in our demand that there must be delivery from the republican movement before devolution can be restored in Northern Ireland. The days of gunmen in government are over.’

I have no interest — neither in relation to my members nor in relation to the people I represent: the majority of the Unionist population in Northern Ireland — in deviating from the course of action that I have taken. I believe that my policy can and will lead to a better Northern Ireland, where peace and justice take the place of terror and strife, when true democracy reigns. For that to happen — for me as the leader of Unionism to enter a Government under the arrangements identified at St. Andrews — there must be full and unequivocal support for the rule of law, the Police Service,”

— that is, the PSNI —

“and the courts by all Members.”

On this matter, my party executive made the following resolution:

“The DUP in keeping with the outcome of its consultation process wants to build on the areas of progress made at St Andrews whilst recognising that other aspects of the proposals require further work. The Party will continue with the work in progress to ensure up front delivery by Government and republicans …

The DUP reiterates the need for the Government to deliver on the outstanding issues presented to it by the Party.

The DUP holds to its long standing position that there can only be an agreement involving Sinn Fein when there has been delivery by the republican movement, tested and proved over a credible period, in terms of support for the PSNI, the Courts and the rule of law, a complete end to paramilitary and criminal activity and the removal of terrorist structures …

The Government stressed, before, during and after the St Andrews talks that the twin pillars for agreement are DUP support for power sharing and Sinn Fein support for policing. Clearly as Sinn Fein is not yet ready to take the decisive step forward on policing, the DUP is not required to commit to any aspect of power sharing in advance of such certainty.”

The circumstances have not been reached in which there can be a nomination or a designation this day. I have made clear my aim, hope and desire for the future. Throughout the DUP’s consultations, we stated that if and when commitments are delivered, the DUP would enter government. At that time, there will fall to me a judgement consistent with delivery on the ground, as a basis for moving forward. Here I stand.

Gerry Adams’ nomination of Martin McGuinness (with a nice shift from first person plural in Irish to first person singular in English):

Go mbeannaí Dia daoibh. Tá áthas mór orm ár gcara Máirtín Mac Aonghusa a cheapadh do phost an LeasChéad-Aire.

I am very pleased, a Cheann Comhairle, to nominate my friend Martin McGuinness for the position of Deputy First Minister. I agree with Ian Paisley that today is an important day. This is the beginning of a Transitional Assembly and, by our presence today, all of us have agreed to that.

Of course, like Ian Paisley, I too believe that we face great challenges in the months ahead. However, I believe that all of the parties that are represented in this Chamber, and the two Governments, can overcome those challenges. We have a lot in common. We all want peace and justice for all of our families and all of our children. We are all here as equals, and we have a duty to govern for the sake of all of our people.

We also, despite protestations, share a common view that British direct rule is bad rule. Our people deserve better on social and economic matters such as health, education, poverty, water charges and rates. Those are the big issues for which people want their locally accountable politicians to take responsibility. We have the opportunity to bring back sensible, sensitive government, including the all-Ireland institutions.

The DUP says that it has difficulties in sharing power with republicans. Let me tell Members that very many nationalists and republicans are very concerned at the prospect of Sinn Féin sharing power with the DUP. However, that is also a challenge to which we must rise and face together. That is what leadership is about.

I am very conscious of the hurt felt by Protestant and unionist people. I am equally conscious of the hurt felt by nationalists and republicans, and by people caught in the middle of what we have all come through. No one has a monopoly on suffering. No one on any of these Benches can have any part in building a hierarchy of victims. Neither can anyone — especially those in this Chamber — absolve us from the responsibility to build a new and shared future for all of our people. We all must accept our share of responsibility for what has occurred.

As Irish republicans, in many ways, we look back to that great Irish Protestant leader and patriot, Theobald Wolfe Tone, who sought the unity of Catholics, Protestants and dissenters. With goodwill, we can create a space in which all of the issues of difference — whether policing, power sharing, poverty, or any other matter — can be dealt with satisfactorily. Today is another day in the inch-by-inch process of putting the political institutions back in place.

I am very confident that Martin McGuinness will be a champion for equality, fairness and justice — [Laughter.] I believe that none of the difficult issues facing us is insurmountable, but it is crucial that everyone present understands that today is not a stand-alone event, and that progress is required in the short time ahead.

Go raibh míle maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle.

And then McGuinness’ acceptance on behalf of the people and Sinn Fein (we’ve yet to see the significance, if any, of that particular order of words):

Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle. Tá áthas mór orm an post seo a ghlacadh.

I am pleased to accept the nomination and, if it is the will of the people and of Sinn Féin, I will represent the people as Deputy First Minister. I will carry out my responsibilities and duties conscientiously, and I will respect and promote the common good of all our people at all times.

Go raibh míle maith agat.

Then the Speaker lit the blue touch paper, and there was uproar (for a time):

Madam Speaker: In accordance with the direction that I received this morning, it is duly noted that Dr Paisley and Mr McGuinness have indicated, subject to the outcome of the election and other necessary conditions being satisfied —

Some Members: No!

Madam Speaker: Order. I remind Members that, as Speaker, I make the decisions as to our proceedings. Order, order.

I am following the direction given by the Secretary of State — [Laughter.] If Dr Paisley wishes to query that, we can discuss it later.

As I said, it is duly noted that Dr Paisley and Mr McGuinness have indicated, subject to the outcome of the election and other necessary conditions being satisfied, their intention to be nominated as First Minister designate and Deputy First Minister designate, after the Assembly elections.

We shall now move to statements from the leaders of the other political parties.