The current Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers were together in Belfast today, opening a new multi-million pound ferry terminal. Deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness was denying that anyone from his party had threatened anything.. although, as Mick noted here, someone from the party was briefing that way.. and McGuinness was stressing “the absolute urgency required to see that [St Andrews] agreement fulfilled” – although, the devolution of policing and justice powers still requires “agreement between the political parties”, “as you well know”. Meanwhile the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown was telling the Commons – “I hope we can move forward tomorrow (Thursday) and that the new first minister will be nominated as will the deputy first minister. I believe that this can and will happen.” And out-going First Minister, the DUP’s Ian Paisley, has rejected the claim that the party had reneged on the St Andrews Agreement.
However, Mr Paisley rejected this claim today. There was such a thing as a St Andrews Agreement and there was a triple lock (veto) on St Andrews and the power of putting people into office comes not from votes in the Assembly but the strength of the people in the Assembly and those people are entitled to what the law gives them, he said. Talks have been continuing to avert the possibility of fresh elections but Mr Paisley (82), said it would be an easy contest for his party. I just ask people do they want to come back to the bad old days or do they want to go forward? he added. Are we going to bring everything to a standstill because people give an interpretation of what happens at St Andrews in their way.
Which just leaves one question, will tomorrow see SF party president, Gerry Adams, back from Downing St to nominate Martin McGuinness as deputy First Minister..? Update The BBC are now reporting “increasing optimism”..