“He also explained that it was his idea..”

Will Crawley chaired the West Belfast Talks Back meeting last night, noted by Fair Deal, and on his blog he notes that, at the meeting, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness claimed credit for the details announced in the agreement between his party and the DUP on the shape of any devolved ministry for policing and justice.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness revealed that it was he who proposed to the DUP that both parties should not nominate a justice minister, and that the post should be filled by the Assembly on a cross-community basis. He also explained that it was his idea that there should be one combined policing and justice portfolio, rather than two new departments.

Of course, the Assembly and Executive Review Committee had already recommended that there should be one department, but they couldn’t agree on the number of ministers involved. Thankfully we have the details of the parties’ positions at that time from the Minutes of Proceedings of that report. [6 November 2007]

Sinn Féin favoured the model of two Ministers acting equally and jointly, whereas the SDLP stated that a single Minister is the most appropriate model. However, recognising that this may not be a realistic option, the SDLP’s second preference is for two Ministers acting equally and jointly, separate from OFMdFM. The UUP support the model of a single Minister, but only in circumstances where there is full community confidence. This is a view shared by the DUP.

And from the Minutes of Evidence [6 November 2007]

1109. The Chairperson: The Clerk has underlined the relevant section on page 5 of the speech.

1110. I ask members to remind the Committee of the preferred model of their party.

1111. Mr O’Dowd: As I declared at last week’s meeting, Sinn Féin’s preferred model is for a joint Ministry including two Ministers of equal status.

1112. The Chairperson: That is option 2. Alex, am I correct in stating that the SDLP’s preferred model is for a single Minister?

1113. Mr Attwood: That option makes the most sense but, in our current political circumstances, that will not attract political or community confidence. Therefore, we may end up with the model of two Ministers, preferably of equal status — because the junior Minister would be in an invidious position — who would be separate from the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.

1114. The Chairperson: Option 1 is the SDLP’s preferred choice, but Mr Attwood believes that option 2 is more realistic.

1115. Mr McFarland: The UUP is of the view that policing and justice matters should not be devolved unless there were full public confidence in doing so — as everyone has said. In the absence of full confidence, why should two Ministers, presumably with their own staff, be paid £76,000 each? Are we saying that policing and justice will be devolved without there being full public confidence? If that is the case, checks and balances will be required. The UUP is in favour of a single Minister, but those powers should not be devolved without full public confidence.

1116. The Chairperson: The DUP’s preferred option remains the appointment of a single Minister. It is relevant to consider Alex Attwood’s comment about how the Ministers will be appointed, considering the realities of life in Northern Ireland. If a cross-community vote were required in the Assembly, for instance, would that take care of Alex’s concern that an individual would have to be capable of commanding cross-community support? Should that be decoupled from the d’Hondt system, at least for the first such appointment? Clerk, do we know what the current legislative position is, because some obvious grey areas were highlighted during last week’s discussion?

1117. The Committee Clerk: The legislative position is stated in the briefing paper, under “Option 1: Single Minister”. The sequence for the appointment process is stated therein. The Minister could be a member of any party. The consent of the nominating officer would be required. He or she would be jointly nominated by the First Minister and deputy First Minister, and that nomination would be approved by a 50:50:50 cross-community resolution. That would happen after the appointment of the First Minister and the deputy First Minister — and before d’Hondt is run — and it would count immediately for the purposes of d’Hondt. That is option 1.

1118. The Chairperson: Alex, how do you feel about that, in the context of your preference for a single Minister? Does that not ensure that that Minister is capable of commanding widespread support?

1119. Mr Attwood: I shall deal with the realpolitik of the matter. There is already a principle of shared leadership in Government. Although we have enough confidence to set up devolved institutions, there is still a sense that — in order to guarantee those institutions — shared leadership is needed. Alan made the point that, if we were in a position to devolve policing and justice matters, that suggests, per se, that there would be enough confidence in a single Minister. That is not necessarily the case. On the contrary, one could ask why we did not establish a single Minister in leadership at the head of the Government, if there was sufficient confidence to establish devolution — as we did in May.

Meanwhile Northern Ireland First Minister, the DUP’s Peter Robinson, has intervened over Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams’, et al, economy with the actualité. From the NewsLetter report.

Mr Adams has claimed the DUP agreed as part of the St Andrews Agreement to the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Assembly by May of this year.

However, the DUP leader said Mr Adams’ assertions were wholly inaccurate.

The East Belfast MP described the remarks as “bizarre and difficult to understand”.

Oh, not that difficult to understand..

, , , , ,

  • Blackmouth

    I was surprised that McGuinness claimed it was his idea. A strange claim that would always unravel facing scrutiny.

  • Turgon


    I understand he also claims to have been in the IRA only briefly. Another rather strange claim.

  • Mayoman

    Almost as strange as the denial of connections to paramiliatries by many mainstream unionist politicians, Turgon!

  • Shore Road Resident

    Yes, which makes it all right then.
    Or does it?

  • Paul

    Turgon and Shore Road Resident,

    Any chance of getting the finger out and start demanding the disarming and disbandment of the Loyalist gun gangs?

  • Turgon
  • Paul

    Well done Turgon, if a little momentum could be created in the Unionist community maybe we will get to the goal of an unarmed society.

  • percy

    hey quit the infighting, this is progress

  • percy

    Have you picked up on the Mark Davenport diaries:

    While the Taoiseach has ruled out any imminent merger between Fianna Fail and the SDLP, there’s still some activity going on. The issue may have been long-fingered but should Fianna Fail come courting, the SDLP will be ready with an answer/strategy. Indeed, the SDLP working group continues to meet. The latest meeting was earlier this week.

    The idea is with SDLP holding the ministry of P&J;this would naturally make FF a bit perky on a merger?
    One to watch

  • Mayoman

    About Purvis, Turgon? Hardly mainstream now, is she? Many bigger names, some of them very current, have been ‘in bed’ (and maybe atill are) with loyalists. A little honesty in the past dabblings of even your own former (and maybe present?) political ‘home’ would not come amiss.

    SSR: Both as bad, and just pointing that out. Or are we back to ‘some terrorism good’ debating?

  • Mayoman

    Agreed Percy, I apologise for sidetracking the thread!

  • Mayoman

    Yes, bigger names indeed. We need to find out what David Ervine meant when he said on tv that he knows the colours of the wallpaper in DUP living rooms.

    It might even the guilt a little and explain why the leadership of the DUP were not all that put out by sharing power with SF.

  • Turgon

    David Ervine was a sectarian terrorist and approved of the murder of other people. Why should any person of integrity whatsoever put any store by his self serving remarks?

  • Comrade Stalin


    Because his remark isn’t isolated. Remember the 1978 strike ? Andy Tyrie ?

  • Turgon

    Yes that is to be condemned and I whole heartedly condemn it but you are not answering the question. Why do you take the word of a convicted terrorist criminal who intended to murder his fellow countrymen merely because they were Roman Catholics? Are these the sort of people whose words have value to you?

  • Pete Baker


    Try to keep to the actual topic.

  • Turgon

    Unionists have a dismal regard for the well-being of Catholics.

    We have the UUP who used genocidal demographics to suppress our people. We have the DUP who we suspect would like to be even better than the UUP. And least of all the terrorists who killed Catholics in another genocidal urge.

    I think it’s fairly evident that the unionists as a whole are exhibiting a reverse psychology that is demonstrating a need for genocide. Isn’t themselves they want to wipe out and trying to wipe out the rest of the world is merely to suggest that?

  • Turgon

    The UUP used genocide? Now I am not in the UUP any more but I cannot remember the UUP genocide. That would be vaguely amusing were it not for the fact that real genocide has happened throughout the world. Because of that it is insulting to those who truly have been victims of such crimes. As such your remarks Mr. O’Connell are both pathetic and insulting.

  • Turgon

    I said “Genocidal demographics” not genocide about the UUP.

    You will have no doubt heard of that fateful period between 1920 and 1972 when every means at the disposal of the unionist tyranny, UUP tyranny, was used to minimise the numbers of Catholics in NI. That was a genocidal impulse if ever there was one; they were trying to do it legally rather than have the international community come down upon them.

    I’m not a republican but I see where the basis of their genocidal impulse comes from.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    “Politician claims credit for something he didn’t do, SHOCKA!!”
    I bet he doesn’t come near people between elections either. The nerve!

    I’m disgusted at this outrage. Can’t we get an online petition going to get him booted out?

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    “Any chance of getting the finger out and start demanding the disarming and disbandment of the Loyalist gun gangs?”

    Yes, let’s march on PSNI Headquarters and demand that Special Branch tell the plods where the weapons are and they can go and, you know, enforce the law and that.

  • Pete Baker


    “Politician claims credit for something he didn’t do, SHOCKA!!”

    If you really think that’s it, then you’re just not paying attention. Or not reading closely enough. Try again.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    “If you really think that’s it, then you’re just not paying attention. Or not reading closely enough. Try again.”

    Hmmm! I honestly don’t think I could wade through that again. No offence, like.

    Now, run along you little scamp! *ruffles hair*

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Pete, so fecking what? Holy mother of Jaysus so fecking what?

    Either way there are absolutely no political implications – or am I missing something perhaps the man who is about to lose his army council (or has he already lost it?) has adopted to politics so quickly that he’s starting to tell porkies after a life of total honesty in the Provos. He’s not just the deputy first minister he’s a very naughty boy.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    “Pete, so fecking what? Holy mother of Jaysus so fecking what?”

    Indeed. If I posted long rambling sectarian crap or tried to imply I was ‘connected’ up in dunclug and repeated the post 10 times on one thread nothing would be said. But I get plenty of replies from pete and mick if I challenge or see things differently from them, even if I present rational arguments. or it gets deleted on a site that is meant to encourage debate. *shrugs*

    “He’s not just the deputy first minister he’s a very naughty boy.” Very good!

  • what about the smog at the Games…

    thats more important…

    I hear they are letting off 35,000 fireworks to replace the smog with more smog…

    and pyrotechnics smog stinks too….

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Wild Melee,

    yes smog – is it a masking agent for some quare chinese drug? – that would be typical of them devious and cunning, and suspiciously different from Westerners in appearance and of course oriental depending on which way you are travelling round the globe.

    But slugger me this one ? How come there is no post about the poor Norn Iron competitors divided up between 2 different countries – its a disgrace and such a small place but the people are so friendly if given to periodic bouts of inter-communal violence but they make a great big wee fry and if there was a marching competition in the olympics shurr the quare fellahs from the OO would tear the arse out of the competition.

  • what about them boys that cycled from Dublin to China – and they aren’t even in the Games…

    surely they should be… that’s quite a mission and much more respectable than that Ewan and Charlie on their BMW bikes….

  • Turgon

    Where are you? Preparing for marching in Derry tomorrow where you’ll be rejoicing in sending out genocidal signals?

  • Pete Baker


    “If I posted long rambling sectarian crap or tried to imply I was ‘connected’ up in dunclug and repeated the post 10 times on one thread nothing would be said. But I get plenty of replies from pete and mick if I challenge or see things differently from them, even if I present rational arguments.”

    Are you complaining that I’ve replied to your comment, or complaining that I don’t reply to obvious trolls? Btw, I must have missed your rational arguments here.


    “man who is about to lose his army council (or has he already lost it?) has adopted to politics so quickly that he’s starting to tell porkies after a life of total honesty in the Provos.”

    At least you acknowledge the “porkies” involved.

    To an audience at the West Belfast Féile.

    Which, to go back to the point made by the very first commenter here, Blackmouth, has been reported, as far as I’m aware, only on two blogs.

    Next step is to ask why the “porkies” to cover the u-turn over SF’s position?

    Hint, try reading the original post again – particularly the final part below the fold.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    I’m not complaining at all. I just notice that you seem to have a little go at things I say, pointing out in particular that I have misunderstood things when I don’t seem to have at all. But hey, we make our comments and people can read and decide for themselves.

    Don’t worry about missing any rational points I have made, you’re probably just not too bright. (Don’t worry about it, I’m thick as all get out, too.)

    I suspect people have become tired of this issue, I have. Let’s all move on, the bland leading the blind, eh?