Ford: Justice Minister won’t be full Executive member…

JUST been reading Turgon’s post on Alliance, and it reminded me that party leader David Ford spelled out his reasons today for why he wouldn’t accept the ministry for policing and justice – assuming it were ever offered. According to Chris Thornton, it was because the proposed job is a “carve-up” that would have diminished powers. Thornton writes: “Party leader David Ford claimed today that the DUP and Sinn Fein do not want the Minister to be a member of the Executive — meaning he or she would have no role in wider issues like the Budget. Mr Ford said the proposals for devolving policing and justice are “unworkable and deeply flawed”. Ford added that the “so-called breakthrough over the Department of Justice amounts to very little”. “Apparently all the DUP and Sinn Fein have proposed is a Minister who would not even be a member of the Executive,” he said. “How could anyone fulfil a role as important as Justice Minister in those circumstances?” Wonder if the SDLP have thought this through…

  • The Raven

    Is there any reason given as to why this post should be excluded from the Executive?

  • T.Ruth

    My personal opinion only. Separate from the Executive it can be a direct charge each year to the UK Exchequer.(Would 1.5 billion be about right?) Absorbed into the block budget and overtime we will get less than we need.Alliance can help cement the peace by being ready to accept this opportunity.A separate independent Ministry makes a lot of sense.P and J is outside the day to day trading off that characterises an Executive process.

    If D’Hondt does not suit Alliance/SDLP/UUP they should join with DUP to vote it away.

    Pand J will not be devolved until DUP judges the moment is right and at the same time the DUP is supportive of it being devolved-that will strengthen the Assembly.

    SF, “Colombia” Ruane included needs to get its head round the politics of devolution and work to find common ground on this as on other “contentious” issues rather than assume it can negotiate packages of concessions the way it did when it had an illegal Army at its back to force Blair and his ilk into submission.
    T.Ruth

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    BG,

    Was there a need to start a new thread given that Aliance’s strange utterings on Police and Justice prompted Turgon’s analyis?

    I dont think Alliance’s position on this is credible. Surely their statement should have beeen along the lines of: “We have a number of concerns with the shape of the proposed Justice ministry and we will seek to clarify with SF and the DUP how these concerns can be addressed and Alliance can play a full part in helping to find a possible solution to the continuing issues sorrounding the transfer of Police and Justice powers to the Assembly.”

    If, as Adams warns today, the whole edifice comes tumbling down as a result of this issue, the Alliance party will be rightly associated with this failure and duly rewarded at the polls.

    As Tony might say ‘the hand of history’ is on Davy Ford’s shoulder, and rather than rising to the challenge he appears to be hiding behind an outpouring of self-serving arcane party dogma.

  • The Raven

    And so the whole issue is once again reduced to the blame game scenario? Do this or you’ll be screwed at the polls?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy,

    You’re writing Alliance’s statements for them again. I told you, unlike Sinn Fein, Alliance can write their own statements. To your point, that statement that you suggested is classic fence-sitter stuff. The message needs to be clear; if the DUP and SF intend to faff around in the way that they are now, the response must be no. As I said before, a serious set of workable proposals would not be dismissed out of hand by Alliance. The only way that Alliance will participate in government is when the structures of government have been modified in a way that it believes is fair. The ball is in DUP/SF’s court, not Alliance. They can fix this problem right now. You need to be asking them why they are not up to the task.

    If, as Adams warns today, the whole edifice comes tumbling down as a result of this issue, the Alliance party will be rightly associated with this failure and duly rewarded at the polls.

    Rubbish. You clearly believe that Alliance should make decisions based on it’s likely future outcome at an election. I don’t believe this, I think the party should put forward it’s best view of how to move forward, as it has done throughout history. If the electorate don’t like that, then that is something the party must accept – this isn’t an experience which is novel. Alliance are not afraid of an election, and will campaign on the failings of this executive and the need for it’s reform. On that basis, it is the DUP, SF and UUP who need to be worried.

    T.Ruth,

    I have to say it’s so amusing listening to you talking about how to preserve the peace, whereas two years ago you were blood and thunder opposition to powersharing with Sinn Fein. It’s great to see your u-turn for common sense.

    At the moment the DUP is the only party which has expressed a strong opinion to get rid of d’Hondt. Persuading the Stoops to drop it might be hard given that it was their baby. And the Shinners will scream blue murder since it pretty much entails that they will have a spell out of power, and their leadership will be made to look like complete fools.

    Note, however, that voluntary coalition does not mean that SF would be out of office. It’s possible to conceive a time in the near future where increased representation among the non-unionist parties could produce the required mathematics. What I like about it is that it will require parties to actually come up with policies that make them attractive to vote for and at the same time make themselves attractive to potential coalition partners; the sectarian voting bloc politics will not work. That’s what Alliance’s vision for the future of this country is.

  • DC

    Sammy,

    I think the parties here have called it badly but it goes back to around post-98 time. At one point I was going to join the UUP to back Trimble in part to reform Unionist thought over approaches to NI. Sadly I could tell not long after the deal that Trimble looked unsure of his own ability, and that was that. Trimble had a very poor and patchy strategy, so did the SDLP because it was one that gave way to SF.

    Same goes for the DUP re the TUV and there is no need. It needs to deliver. The DUP will lose votes, yes sure, but it fails to see that Stormont is a reforming assembly in that in order to function there needs to be change. Holding up progress causing delay and decay in confidence goes back to being fixed to a very rigid vote base which is limited and un-Catholic in taste and outlook.

    So it does require leadership in what is clearly an assembly that operates to a centrist outcome. Individual party ideologies cannot be delivered on unless there is consensus and ideologies will have to be renegotiated to a new style and colour. It is a give-way assembly. The DUP must know that the GFA is not about getting it all their own way, but to do nothing after almost two years is ridiculous and is out of touch with people across the wider NI.

    The main problem I believe is that across the board, the parties up at Stormont are tantamount to Christian Democrats, tough on principle and patronisingly high on apparent social compassion, if they had any true social compassion they would deliver, like Trimble did, lose votes and transform NI in doing so. If things aren’t allowed to evolve naturally, the shape of politics can become retarded, like it has done before with horrific outcomes.

    To the DUP all I can say is JFDI!

  • Jimmy

    Newton Emerson in todays Irish News makes an interesting point.
    Under the d;Hondt mechanism any new ministry should go to the SDLP?
    He further goes on to say ‘Does Sinn Fein hate the SDLP so much that it would do a side-deal with the DUP (again) to the detriment of Nationalists?’ Errr Yes’

    Again we see Sinn Fein at thier Machaivellian worse..interpreting the Rules of the GFA to suit themeselves (again)

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    CS,

    Your own statements are not consitstent – are you in anyway connected to the Aliance perchance?

    Firstly
    “As I said before, a serious set of workable proposals would not be dismissed out of hand by Alliance.”

    Secondly
    “The only way that Alliance will participate in government is when the structures of government have been modified in a way that it believes is fair”

    Apart from the inconsistency – on the first point if that is the case then they should say it instead of making statements that will (and should) damage their party.

    Secondy, it took the 2 governments and the parties months if not years to come up with the compromise of STA layered on top of the GFA – if we will now have to amend significant parts of this in relation to how Stormont operates before the Aliance will agree to the transfer of police and Justice then the assembly will be collapsed long before then.

  • Greenflag

    jimmy ,

    ‘Again we see Sinn Fein at their Machaivellian worse..interpreting the Rules of the GFA to suit themeselves (again) ‘

    So ? All that does is bring parity once again to NI politics . I seem to recall that senior party members of the DUP ‘interpret’ the Bible to suit their political agenda as we have just seen with Messrs Robinson and Storey. There have been accusations that the DUP have their own ‘interpretations’ for the GFA .

    So why should SF or the UUP or Alliance or the SDLP or the People’s Front for the Liberation of Bangor not have their own ‘interpretation’ of the GFA .

    There is a reason/reasons why Alliance seem condemned to hoover in the 5% plus or minus a couple of percent voting range . That reason is quite simply Northern Ireland in it’s present format . Change the format and Alliance’s future could be an astounding success or a dismal failure . They have found a small niche on one of the healthier branches on a mainly ‘rotten’ tree. In the ‘pruning’ times ahead they have to be careful they don’t end up being ‘pruned’ by either SF or the DUP or indeed the other ones .

  • Comrade Stalin

    Firstly
    “As I said before, a serious set of workable proposals would not be dismissed out of hand by Alliance.”

    Secondly
    “The only way that Alliance will participate in government is when the structures of government have been modified in a way that it believes is fair”

    Apart from the inconsistency – on the first point if that is the case then they should say it instead of making statements that will (and should) damage their party.

    I do not see an inconsistency. You’re welcome to explain in more detail where you think it lies.

    Secondy, it took the 2 governments and the parties months if not years to come up with the compromise of STA layered on top of the GFA – if we will now have to amend significant parts of this in relation to how Stormont operates before the Aliance will agree to the transfer of police and Justice then the assembly will be collapsed long before then.

    Again, I come back to my point. Is it Alliance’s fault that the DUP and SF sold everyone a pup ? Alliance, and indeed the SDLP and UUP, were sidelined during the StA negotiations.

  • cynic

    “Is there any reason given as to why this post should be excluded from the Executive?”

    Oh come off it!! Why would SF and the DUP’s tell the truth ….that they want a puppet Minister with no powers but the ability to take the blame.

  • Greenflag

    Cynic ,

    ‘that they (SF & DUP)want a puppet Minister with no powers but the ability to take the blame.’

    QED .

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    CS

    The reason these 2 statements (below) are inconsistent is that an international agreement which took months to negotiate (STA )has to be partially unpicked to satisfy Alliance before they will agree to help resolve a problem which is NOW causing serious difficulties. So “a serious set of workable proposals” are effectively not possible given this pre-condition.

    But if the DUP agree with the ministry going to the SDLP then Davy Ford will have damaged himself and his party for feck all and the Alliance could then indulge themselves in a suitable phonebox somewhere debating arcane points of order and where it all went wrong for them.

    Firstly
    “As I said before, a serious set of workable proposals would not be dismissed out of hand by Alliance.”

    Secondly
    “The only way that Alliance will participate in government is when the structures of government have been modified in a way that it believes is fair”

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Sammy

    If we’re going to call others inconsistent, then it’s only fair to point out that there would have to be significant changes to the legislation emanating from St Andrews if Alliance was to take up the ministry.

    Whether Alliance is electorally damaged by not taking the position is sheer speculation on your part. However, I know for a fact that the anoraks in Alliance (including the leader) are – by far – the best predictors of election results in Northern Ireland. If Alliance is taking a risk, I can guarantee it’s a highly calculated one.

    In terms of political tactics, there’s no point in Alliance accepting a second-class position. Sinn Fein and the DUP certainly would not accept a minister with no powers, who would be kicked around the executive by the two biggest parties and used to lay the blame on when things go wrong (as there’s clearly no sense of collectivity in the current flawed executive). The timing is wrong too – next month’s IMC report will put pressure on the DUP, so it wouldn’t make sense to jump now anyway.

    Frankly, I don’t smell crisis now in the same way it existed when Alliance re-designated. It’s a different playing field, and I don’t think there’s any need for Alliance to act at the behest of others any longer. Things will get sorted out this time, as there’s a new pragmatism that exists. Just because it won’t happen according to Gerry Adams’ timetable or Peter Robinson’s tick-list doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    BG,

    Fair Point.

    BUT….the crucial difference is this – to amend the STA (if that was what is required) when everybody is in agreement with the change ie a technical device to allow for a funny ministry is one thing to suggest that a major plank of the STA has to be re-written would be another.

    Damage to the Alliance at elections aside – (it is clear from some of the posts above that it will retain its loyal following irrespective of what it does) but its perception by the electorate as a party of reasonablness and brgidge building between the 2 communities ( which they have built up over decades) will no longer be a given.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The reason these 2 statements (below) are inconsistent is that an international agreement which took months to negotiate (STA )has to be partially unpicked to satisfy Alliance before they will agree to help resolve a problem which is NOW causing serious difficulties.

    I see nothing in this paragraph which justifies your accusation of inconsistency on my part.

    There is nothing in St Andrews to say that the policing and justice ministry would be gifted to Alliance on the basis which is now being discussed. To me, this looks like an unpicking no matter what way you look at it. My point is that if there is a deal to be done, we’re going to have to go all the way.

    So “a serious set of workable proposals” are effectively not possible given this pre-condition.

    The StA is self-evidently not workable, that is why Gerry Adams is warning of the imminent collapse of the institutions. It therefore goes without saying that for Alliance to get involved there will need to be negotiations and a new framework of agreement. I would, of course, point out that the UUP and SDLP must also be involved, not frozen out like they were at St Andrews.

    I’m not intimidated by the threat of electoral damage, I’ve been an Alliance supporter for a long time. At least the party can go to the electorate with a solid set of principles and ideals. There is a very easy way for the party to pick up votes, and that would be to align itself with the soft unionists and resist the advance of Sinn Fein. The day that the party becomes an electorally-driven machine is the day that I stop being a supporter. I don’t believe there is any risk of this happening.

  • slug

    Sammy

    “Damage to the Alliance at elections aside – (it is clear from some of the posts above that it will retain its loyal following irrespective of what it does) but its perception by the electorate as a party of reasonablness and brgidge building between the 2 communities ( which they have built up over decades) will no longer be a given.”

    Personally I think the pool in which Alliance go fishing for votes is MIGHTY unhappy with the executive parties. Much as they want bridge building between communities, they would also like a plank built for those two parties to walk out on…based on their performance in power over the last year.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    CS

    “The StA is self-evidently not workable”

    If the DUP and SF do a deal with the SDLP’s help then the Alliance Party are going to look rather foolish – it they dont do a deal then the Aliance party will take part of the blame. How Wee Davy managed to manouvere his party into such a position, will I’m sure, be explored by some of the more analytical party members at their next conference which should supply a few amusing moments.

    The transfer of Police and Justice is not just a power-sharing issue but a crucial peace process issue and Wee Davy should have considered that before he decided to position himself at silly-mid-off.

  • perry

    “If the DUP and SF do a deal with the SDLP’s help then the Alliance Party are going to look rather foolish”

    Ian Parsley’s on record on Slugger as saying that’s exactly what should happen under d’hondt. How would it make Alliance look foolish?

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    perry,

    Would that be the DUPs Rev Ian Parsley you are referring to and not someone from the Green Party? Boom Boom

    They would look foolish because in the words of the rather logically inconsistent Comrade Stalin “The StA is self-evidently not workable” which seems to reflect the Silly Party – sorry the Alliance party’s view. So they will have turned down the chance to make something work and gain a minister because its “not workable” only to find that when a not-quite-so-silly-party like the SDLP gets involved then hey presto it does work after all. I’m trying to not picture Davy with the ladders and the buckets of water and the painted face at the party’s next (circus) conference.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy:

    If the DUP and SF do a deal with the SDLP’s help then the Alliance Party are going to look rather foolish – it they dont do a deal then the Aliance party will take part of the blame.

    That is a gamble I would be prepared to take. My calculation is that the electorate will ask why the DUP and SF were unable to sort this out themselves, in the event that it collapses.

    The reason why Alliance are in the frame, and not the SDLP, is because Sinn Fein are keen not to give control over a ministry to their main electoral competitor.

    How Wee Davy managed to manouvere his party into such a position, will I’m sure, be explored by some of the more analytical party members at their next conference which should supply a few amusing moments.

    So your point of view is that Alliance should enter the administration and work the deal which it has spent the last 12 months criticizing, uphold this disastrous and ineffective executive, and then go to the electorate and try to explain the u-turn ? You reckon it’s a better strategic bet – the emperor does, in fact, have clothes ? You’ve obviously been eating those funny mushrooms off the Cavehill.

    They would look foolish because in the words of the rather logically inconsistent Comrade Stalin

    You still haven’t pointed out exactly what is inconsistent about what I have said, despite my pained explanations, although I note other contributors recording that you have a tendency to make accusations and then run away without substantiating them. So be it.

    “The StA is self-evidently not workable” which seems to reflect the Silly Party – sorry the Alliance party’s view.

    It’s my point of view. I cannot speak for the Alliance Party. I’m not an elected representative nor an officer of the party.

    So they will have turned down the chance to make something work and gain a minister because its “not workable” only to find that when a not-quite-so-silly-party like the SDLP gets involved then hey presto it does work after all.

    Not only has nobody seen any deal or proposals yet, but now you’re fantasizing about the SDLP taking on the job, even though there’s no indication that this has been proposed or agreed by everyone.

    “hey presto” is just right – you really do believe that sorting these matters out is a matter of waving a magic wand. Well, I hope your magic wand is polished and up to scratch. It’s going to take a miracle for these guys to make a deal which sticks. I think the SDLP would be mad to take on this job and them promptly be blamed for everything that goes wrong with policing, which is exactly what’s going to happen here. But they’ve done silly things before.

  • 0b101010

    The onus is on the DUP and Sinn Féin to become parties of reasonableness and bridge-building; instead they play Hot Potato with any issue they can’t bring to the bases they fired up with sectarian rhetoric.

    Alliance shouldn’t take on the role of patsy to any other party, accepting hand-me-down, second-class positions. Nor should they accept any suggestion that would ride roughshod over the agreed structures and systems in place. I would say the same to any party.

    If the DUP-Sinn Féin government want to re-run D’Hondt, fine; if the want to agree and implement a new allocation procedure, fine; but playing games with the system of government is completely unacceptable.