DUP chairs to keep eye on SF ministers…

THE committee chairs at Stormont are being chosen, and the DUP has chosen chairs to oversee two Sinn Fein departments – education and agriculture. Apparently, there was some surprise when SF picked education first, so perhaps the DUP doesn’t want SF to have free rein with the successor to the 11-plus – although Sammy Wilson reckons the new restraints on ministers means no more ‘Martin McGuinness abolishing the transfer test’ moments. We shall see whether stalemate ensues, although there is a limit to how long pupils can remain in limbo. Sinn Fein is taking the important Public Accounts Committee, which played a key role holding the previous administration to account. PA report here on UTV, copied below the fold.Sinn Fein’s incoming education minister will be held to account by the DUP after it landed the chairmanship of the Stormont Assembly’s scrutiny committee.

The majority unionist party will also share the agriculture committee chair where it will oversee another of Sinn Fein`s ministers.

However, Sinn Fein has landed the public account committee chairmanship and will share the committee`s shadowing of the DUP`s finance and culture ministers.
The committee chairmanships were agreed at an hour long meeting between the parties in Stormont.

Under the deal hammered out today, the DUP also picked up the chairs of the health committee which will pit them against an Ulster Unionist minister, the social development committee which will see them square up to the SDLP`s minister and also the ordered, standing orders and procedures and internal review committee.

Sinn Fein will also chair the committee scrutinising the Ulster Unionist employment and learning minister.

The Ulster Unionists will chair the committee of the centre, examining the works of the First and Deputy First Minister.

The party also took the chairperson`s role in the regional development committee, focussing on the work of the Sinn Fein minister.

The SDLP chose two committee chairs scrutinising the work of DUP ministers at enterprise, trade and investment and also environment.

The party also landed the chairmanship of the standards and privileges committee.

  • Glensman

    I hope all these checks and measures don’t stop the ministers actually doing their jobs…

  • Chris Donnelly


    A more accurate title not have read:

    DUP/ SF chairs to keep eye on SF/ DUP Ministers….

  • Chris Donnelly


    Insert the word ‘Would’ at the start of that question.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Fair point, though I think the DUP might be the more nervous of the two parties about what the other might do!

  • kokane

    I think it marginally suits DUP – as they like the status quo more. But to get the right to roam (not Rome – but bound to be a good joke in there somewhere) down Garvahey road and 11 plus presumably they will have to trade Irish Language bill and perhaps Devolution of Justice etc.

    After that Nationalsits will be looking for more stuff than Unionists but may have little to bargain with.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    Schools fear crisis as SF takes control – that was the headline on the Belfast Telegraph piece which just goes to show that if you can’t find a story, you create the fear of a story in order to frighten the bejasus out of your readers. Talk about shoddy journalism. Not one person, not one, was quoted in the story to back up the ‘fear’ angle.

    And haven’t the BT heard of collective cabinet responsility, the 50/50/50 rule, the oath of office for Ministers etc? Or are they just looking for any old guff to fill the white?

    Here comes the really interesting part in terms of the future – but the Belfast Telegraph is still mired in the past. Well God rot them there…..

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Not that anyone really cares, but the headline was actually: ‘Schools crisis fear as Sinn Fein takes control’.

    This, unfortunately for the casual reader, can be justified in paragraphs 1, 2, 4 and 5.

  • Gum

    This is really not a story.

    Who were going to chair most of the committees? The DUP and SF. Since the DUP can’t chair the committees where they hold the ministerial portfolio, who is most likely to? SF. And vice versa.

  • Rubicon

    Many well made points here – what we have is a DUP/SF Executive being scrutinised by a DUP/SF Parliament/Assembly.

    OK – it’s a simplification – the UUP and SDLP aren’t entirely irrelevant but the power of the Parliament/Assembly to scrutinise the Executive is seriously diminished. In part this is the outcome of the GFA that enforces inclusive government. With it you get inclusive responsibility that emasculates the Parliament/Assembly from holding the Executive to account. This then translates to the electorate who are equally disempowered.

    Most NI’ers I speak to think this is the compromise that needs made as a precursor to building the trust that would allow a “better democracy”. Perhaps they’re right, but they are playing with fire. It’s not a democracy when accountability is set aside.

    But, among those NI’ers that think this a stepping stone – none can explain why d’Hondt is run 3 times; first for the Executive, second for statutory committees and third for standing committees. This regulation means an imposed and systemic relationship between the Executive and Parliament – the large parties hold ALL the power. Only internecine/sectarian bickering between the large parties is fostered.

    This may seem academic to some but the outworking of horse-trading will soon make it very relevant. It isn’t necessary and it disengages the Assembly from the people – even more than NI’ers stepping stone argument requires.

    To give an example – without being party political – why is Alliance with almost half the seats of the SDLP entitled to no committee chair on statutory or standing committees. The answer is simple; it’s because d’Hondt is run three times. If it was run once more than the Alliance may find opposition attractive.

    When that happens perhaps we’ll have “stepping stones”. Meanwhile, pressure, voluntary and other lobby groups will be better advised to target party whips than spend their time giving evidence to Assembly committees.

  • the word ‘crisis’ wasn’t mentioned by the uu blowhard -sorry – spokesman – McNarry – in his fatuous claims. What would really spell crisis for schools is his party gaining that ministry.

  • Gonzo

    No, he used the word deadlock, which isn’t far from crisis.

    Still, you got it badly wrong all the same and slagging McNarry doesn’t really erase that.

  • SuperSoupy

    I hope all parties appointed amongst their strongest members to the SF chaired public account committee. Not to hold a DUP minister to account but to continue the short lived but excellent work in holding previously unaccountable failing public bodies up to scrutiny.

    One body where all can easily work together to benefit everyone.