Sinn Fein says No

DUP proposals on the policing and justice ministry have been rejected by Sinn Fein. The DUP had proposed that the appointment of a future minister be tied to a cross-community vote. These proposals would most certainly mean neither the DUP nor SF would get the ministerial post (for at least one assembly term).

  • Truth and Justice

    It looks clearly that Sinn Fein are looking desperately for a way out of the St Andrews agreement.

  • Nic

    On the face of it, this sounds a surprisingly reasonable proposal from the DUP, doncha think?
    Only thing I’m not sure about:
    The linked BBC report mentions a “weighted” cross-community vote.
    Anybody got a link or a clue how such a thing works in practice?

  • George

    If neither of the two largest parties can be trusted to run the Justice department or don’t trust the other side to do it then let’s call the whole thing off until they do.

    Either you are fit for government or you aren’t.

  • Aaron McDaid

    I suppose the SF position is that there’s no reason that policing and justice ministry(ies) should be any different from other ministries. If this was extended to other ministries (education, health et cetera) then every potential minister would probably be vetoed by somebody.

  • slug


    The weighted voting idea is that you need someone who can command some % of the vote, e.g. 65% or 70% so that the person appointed has very broad support, the support of both nationalists and uninoists.

  • Chris Donnelly

    It looks clearly that Sinn Fein are looking desperately for a way out of the St Andrews agreement.

    On the contrary, T and J, this indicates the DUP are in a real mess over how to progress the entire issue of devolution.

    Clearly the party is in difficulty with its own grassroots- and more seriously perhaps many elected representatives- over the logical outworkings of any agreement.

    To even suggest such a self-defeating proposition reveals a party more interested in denying Sinn Fein a Policing Ministry than claiming that same position themselves- as the weighted majority could just as easily work agin the DUP from the nationalist end.

    This proposal reflects a DUP struggling to come to terms with the reality that any deal involving a return to devolution will see Paisley sharing office with Martin McGuinness and the DUP explicitly legitimising Sinn Fein ministers in government; trying to close the door on Policing after the horse has bolted ain’t gonna wash.

  • slug


    I meant to add that ‘weighted majority’ is just a majority not set at 50% but a little higher.

    Its a formula used quite a lot and it requires a broader consensus than simple majority rule. The key point about a 65% or 70% level in the NI context is that it means that the minister so elected cannot be imposed in practice unless both sides of the community are happy with the appointment.

  • Truth and Justice

    It seems that Sinn Fein are rejecting anything the DUP propose its simple they want out the DUP only have to sit back and watch.

  • joeCanuck

    Stop smirking T&J.
    Only one of those two parties has a fall back position.
    I hope you’re looking forward to de facto joint Authority.

  • DK

    From the link: “The DUP had suggested that a future minister should be elected by a weighted cross-community vote.
    This method, however, is likely to exclude both Sinn Fein and the DUP.
    Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly told the BBC Inside Politics programme he “will not collude” in his own party’s exclusion from office.
    “What party could argue for its own exclusion in these circumstances?” Mr Kelly asked.”

    The answer, Mr Kelly, is the DUP. They are also asking for their own exclusion. Although this is all hypothetical, as it assumes that the DUP and Sinn Fein would automatically exclude each other.

    This actually sounds like a sensible compromise, but Sinn Fein are rejecting it as they are still in a tangle over policing. And out of touch with reality. I was in Raffos chippy today (in a republican area) and I overheard some people talking about some local crime and the police being called. It was all very straight-forward and normal. The police are already accepted. During the week I was driving up the Falls and there was a normal police car parked on the side of the road attending to something. Just a normal car, not a landrover. It was on its own too.

    Sinn Fein have compromised a lot for peace, but they are digging their heels in at a point where support is nebulous. They should dig in at a more all-ireland point, like infrastructure – something that might actually lead to a united Ireland, unlike pissing about with the police.

  • slug

    One could imagine the SDLP or UUP getting the post, not necessarily Alliance who may not have MLAs who want to take up that role in government. I too think it seems a reasonable compromise and it would be a way of allowing a sensitive ministry to be given to a minister that has a wide cross community support. The other way to do it would be by parallel consent rules, which would result in a similar outcome.

  • Pete Baker

    I disagree, DK. The current legislation seems perfectly adequate. When the confidence exists in the community as a whole then, and only then, will the joint motion be proposed by the first and deputy first ministers to start unlocking the mechanism to devolve policing and justice.

    What currently exists is an encouragement for movement on the issue and conditions on the ground.

  • Pete Baker

    To paraphrase.. anything else is a fudge to get us past another artificial deadline.

  • fair_deal


    “this indicates the DUP are in a real mess”

    Sinn Fein keeps adding to the list of things it wants on policing. While at the committee to sort it out the DUP puts forward proposals to try and make progress. However, it is the DUP that are in the mess. Hmmmm.

  • Nic

    Thanks for the info., slug. Still sounds eminently reasonable to me.
    Aaron: Surely cross-community co-operation and support is what this whole shebang is supposed to be about, after all, and with such a sensitive appointment it makes sense to get as much consensus as possible?
    I mean, isn’t the whole assembly thing gerrymandered and weighted to death anyway? A straight democratic majority vote would have had Trimble’s UUP or the DUP in power and the rest in opposition ad finitum (until the SDLP could get a coalition going with the UUP, for example)…
    In that context, the proposal seems to be right in tune with Peace Process Methodology, no?

  • Nic

    Shit, that should be “ in opposition ad INfinitum.. ” ..obviously….

    Oh, and I forgot to mention: Now I’m no electoral engineer or statistician, but it seems to me that if the DUP and SF control say 25% of the vote each, and they use their votes to cancel each other out, there ain’t no mathematical way a compromise “3rd way” candidate from the Alliance or wherever could ever reach a weighted majority.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nic, I ain’t a statistician either, but 75% (assuming SF and the DUP have 25% of the vote each) would sound good to me.

    – a measure could not pass if SF and the DUP agreed, and everyone else disagreed, hence blocking a carve-up between the extremes;

    – a measure could not pass if only unionists or nationalists backed it

    – in order to get legislation through, the parties in government would have to make it acceptable to the moderates as well as the extremists

    Weighted majorities make plenty of sense.

  • abucs

    Couldn’t 75% mean that any party with over 25% of the vote (or seats) prevent there being any justice minister at all ?

  • lib2016

    This ‘offer’ is nonsensense and most people know it. Last week in a Westminster debate Paisley admitted that he ‘had to accept’ powersharing, an admission which Arlene Foster had earlier made and then retracted in a TV interview.

    Does anyone really think that Trimble let alone the DUP are moving without copious armtwisting at Westminster?

    It’s not Sinn Fein who are betraying their cause at the behest of the Brits but the unionist parties, hence the mischievious exercises in disimulation and distraction on this site and elsewhere.

    In the longterm it won’t do. You can’t fool all the people all the time and loyalists have been misled for far too long. They know the Grand Old Duke of York is up to his usual antics and that the deal is done. This is elctioneering.

  • Nationalist

    Comrade Stalin, this “Proposal” from the DUP is not about getting measures or policy through Government but is designed to exclude Sinn Fein from the Ministerial post.

    The situation is simple enough that under the De Hont rules each party in turn, staring with the largest chooses a minstry it wants to run, therefore should the DUP still be the largest and they want the Policing and Justice minstry they only have to chose it.

    The DUP however are trying to ensure that they can pick the treasury post of Finance which controls all the budgets, and is after all the No.1 post, but should they pick that then the next choice falls to Sinn Fein and that would see them being able to choose Police and Justice.

    The proposal is clearly the DUPs way of ensuring it has a veto on which ministry Sinn Fein can chose. Just another example of their Fascist type of Democracy.

  • mcgrath


    “this indicates the DUP are in a real mess”

    Sinn Fein keeps adding to the list of things it wants on policing. While at the committee to sort it out the DUP puts forward proposals to try and make progress. However, it is the DUP that are in the mess. Hmmmm.

    Posted by fair_deal on Dec 17, 2006 @ 11:57 AM

    DUP trying to make progress, please hold….

    FD, flip the argument around, then see does it still make sense.

    This argument is based upon if we cant have it, you cant have it, so lets give it to someone who has no clue what to do with it.

    Nevertheless, it beats just saying NO all the time.

    Regardless, its a not starter.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Could the justice portfolio go to plan B (the joint authority sort of that was originally threatened. Everything else could continue under d’Hondt – get the executive off the ground and park justice for a few years.

  • Yokel

    Children, please. there is no plan for joint authority because it doesn’t exist. If it did it would have been stated clearly by now but it hasn’t because it doesn’t. Its an empoty threat and Peter Hain’s bluff was called.

    Secondly, such a plan, if it did come about would have to be enshrined somewhere in legislation. Labour have 2-3 years left and it’ll get rolled back by the incoming Tory government.

    I can absolutely guarantee you that the UK government hasnt a plan at all….and if they don’t the Irish government are irrelevant.