“There’s no date yet..”

With an “indigenous” ad hoc mechanism for electing a Northern Ireland Justice Minister [see recommendations relating to Category 1 link] now legislated for, whenever those powers are devolved, the Alliance Party appear to be holding out for an ad hoc accountability mechanism too. That’s a real sign of confidence in the NI Executive semi-detached polit-bureau.. Here’s BBC NI’s Stephen Walker’s report from today’s Politics Show.

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  • joeCanuck

    “There’s no date yet..”

    Pete,
    It seems obvious to me that Robinson and McGuiness have agreed on a date.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Joe,

    At the very least, I’m sure they have a date in mind.

  • Reader

    joeCanuck: It seems obvious to me that Robinson and McGuiness have agreed on a date.
    Sealed with a handshake, or do you think there is something written down somewhere?
    Why would Robinson agree to a date, and how could McGuinness hold him to it?

  • joeCanuck

    Sealed with a handshake
    I would think so.

    Why would Robinson agree to a date
    To prevent the complete collapse of the Assembly, resulting in him losing his exalted position?

    how could McGuinness hold him to it
    They spat on their hands before the handshake? Or a Englishman’sBritisher’s word is his bond.

  • Seymour Major

    OK, its a date.

    Since it definitely is a date, what happens if the Alliance Party rejects the nomination?

    The Alliance Party are absolutely right to hold out for the position of nominating officer (the only person who under the Northern Ireland Act has the power to sack a minister).

    The way it looks at the moment, if something goes wrong with the Ministry, the Alliance Party gets blamed. If it goes well, the Politburo take the credit for it.

    Assuming the Alliance get what they want, there is a real opportunity here for them to make a real difference – not so much with Policing, but with Justice. There are so many overdue reforms which need to be carried out to the NI Justice System that they have the potential to dazzle the NI electorate if they manage to work through them quickly. Quite a lot of the reforms will need legislation and the Alliance (if they have done their research on these reforms) will be aware that they require guarantees that they are not going to be obstructed.

    To my knowledge, none of the MLAs are members of the Legal Profession. There will be a huge amount of technical material for the minister to get to grips with in this department.

    I have great respect for Dr. Farry. He is an exceptionally bright and very learned man. However, a person without legal training is very unlikely to have adequate skill and knowledge. For example, the Alliance made the complaint about Iris Robinson’s remarks about homosexuals. A lawyer would have known that complaint stood no chance of prosecution success.

    Another example is my concern about the way the Alliance has approached the proposed Bill of rights. http://www.allianceparty.org/news/003681/alliance_comments_on_bill_of_rights_forum_report_release.html
    Cross community support is always desirable but sometimes, other parties need to be influenced by persuasive argument. I hope that their desire to see cross community consensus does not override the requirement to have rights which are fit for the society they are intended to serve.

  • BonarLaw

    “Cross community support is always desirable but …”

    Tread carefully with that one- thin ice ahead!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Since it definitely is a date, what happens if the Alliance Party rejects the nomination?

    I would assume that the ongoing discussion process is designed around a package being set up that the party can agree to. Like Sinn Fein and the DUP, Alliance also has to consult it’s own membership about this matter and the leadership needs to be sure that it can take the party with it – if it decides to proceed with this.

    The way it looks at the moment, if something goes wrong with the Ministry, the Alliance Party gets blamed. If it goes well, the Politburo take the credit for it.

    I think this concern is the basis of Farry’s remarks about the ministry being powerful enough to take decisions about important matters without getting too tied up. It’s not necessarily the case that the Politburo take the credit for the good stuff and dump the bad stuff on the minister; Margaret Ritchie has managed to have some success despite the DUP/SF machinations.

    Assuming the Alliance get what they want, there is a real opportunity here for them to make a real difference – not so much with Policing, but with Justice. There are so many overdue reforms which need to be carried out to the NI Justice System that they have the potential to dazzle the NI electorate if they manage to work through them quickly. Quite a lot of the reforms will need legislation and the Alliance (if they have done their research on these reforms) will be aware that they require guarantees that they are not going to be obstructed.

    I agree and I think among the tasks the new justice minister will need to consider is to have a wide-ranging consultation on justice reform. There are a range of other matters that are close to the hearts of many people, such as anti-social behaviour, property reforms, etc. I personally think the position of the NI Law Society needs to be reviewed and that there are reforms that can be done to liberalize and open up the market for legal services. That last one might be controversial though.

    I think policing will also benefit from having local politicians in charge. That’s not only the minister and his team, but also the Committee which will be established to scrutinize the minister and propose legislation etc.

    The last thing that we need is a minister who does nothing except introduce legislation to create parity with Westminster. We need a break with the Home Office’s policies, particularly on the aforementioned matter of anti-social behaviour – the present policy is simply not working. We’re going to need talent and vision to deal with the reality that the PSNI’s comparatively large budget and manpower force is unlikely to be sustainable even in a favourable economic climate.

    I have great respect for Dr. Farry. He is an exceptionally bright and very learned man. However, a person without legal training is very unlikely to have adequate skill and knowledge.

    The health minister is not a health professional.
    The DRD minister is not a civil engineer.
    The finance minister is not an economist.
    The education minister is not a teacher.
    The agriculture minister is not a farmer.

    Politicians who take ministries need to be able to quickly grasp facts, direct their civil servants and consultants (who do have the relevant experience) in accordance with policy, and make informed decisions.

    But I do agree that the new minister needs to have a vision and a plan.

    For example, the Alliance made the complaint about Iris Robinson’s remarks about homosexuals. A lawyer would have known that complaint stood no chance of prosecution success.

    It’s an important point of principle to pass these matters to the justice system for investigation even if it appears there may be no chance of a prosecution; and it could be argued that there is a legal responsibility to do so. Incitement to hatred is a crime.

  • Comrade Stalin

    A couple of other thoughts.

    It might actually not be at all favourable to have a minister who is directly qualified in the area that he/she is serving. For example, could you entrust a Health Minister who is also a GP to take the right decision if an issue came up surrounding GP/medical consultant salaries ? Even if the Minister did take the right decision in that case, how could the public be confident that he/she was not influenced by his/her own interests ? I think the same applies to the justice ministry.

    There is a fine line which Alliance will need to tread concerning the justice ministry and it’s independence. It is important that the ministry is not subject to wilful political (or other) interference. At the same time, it surely must be part of the executive itself, and sit around the executive table, participating in collective decisions and all the rest – not sitting off to one side, shielded from the realities of collective responsibility. I’m sure that Dr Farry would agree.

  • fin

    There are several MLA’s who are barristers. One of whom is Alban Maginness.
    I have always believed that a date for P&J was agreed but not released, and for peace of mind very likely witnessed in Downing street.
    Also I have always had an idea that the date for it will trigger who gets the job.
    Before the European election, its Alliance.
    After the European election, its SDLP.

    Before Europe is bad for the DUP as it gives ammo to the TUV, and its good for SF as they can show their supporters Stormont is working.

    After Europe is good for DUP as elections are over, and bad for SF for the same reason.

    The DUP can (behind closed doors) sell it to the party faithful, as promoting the SDLP by giving them the role weakens SF ahead of Stormont elections.

    SF can sell it to the party faithful as its a nationalist getting the role.

    At the end of the day, SF is all about greening NI and pushing for a UI, been the largest party doesn’t matter.

    For the DUP, saving the union is all about keeping one unionist party as the largest in NI.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I have always believed that a date for P&J was agreed but not released, and for peace of mind very likely witnessed in Downing street.

    Witnessing things doesn’t matter a jot. There’s sufficient wiggle room, on paper, for it to be delayed almost indefinitely. That said, I think the wheels are very much in motion.

    Also I have always had an idea that the date for it will trigger who gets the job.
    Before the European election, its Alliance.
    After the European election, its SDLP.

    The European election is almost nothing to do with it. The only people who are worried about the impact of it in relation to that election are the DUP and Jim Allister. That is why there will be almost nothing seen in public on thie matter until that poll is out of the way.

    You also have to look at the politics here. Sinn Fein do not want the SDLP taking the job, as it allows the SDLP to march into their West Belfast core heartland like a knight in shining armour and clean-up the serious anti-social and criminal problems they have there. The DUP do not want the UUP taking the seat for similar reasons (although who in the UUP would take it ? Basil “calculator” McCrea ? The Undertaker ? Slasher McNarry ? shudder).

    The political logic all points to Alliance, whom neither the DUP nor SF see as a major threat to their electoral hegemony. This is why Alliance are even in the running in the first place. It also gives Alliance a position of negotiating strength.

    The DUP can (behind closed doors) sell it to the party faithful, as promoting the SDLP by giving them the role weakens SF ahead of Stormont elections.

    Remember that it is almost certainly likely that the minister will be appointed by cross-community vote and if SF doesn’t want the SDLP taking the seat, the vote will fall. In addition, the DUP want Alliance to take the seat over the SDLP as they can tell their supporters that they ensured that a nationalist would not get the justice ministry in the short term. It is also in the DUP’s interest that Alliance take votes away from the UUP.

    No, this is all going to go like clockwork. The justice ministry proposals will be announced along with a timetable that will be fully endorsed by both the DUP and SF. My prediction is that ultimately Alliance will be offered a deal that they cannot refuse. We’re getting some snippets of what that deal will look like through things like Farry’s comments and some of the comments made by Ford in his speech on Saturday.

    For the DUP, saving the union is all about keeping one unionist party as the largest in NI.

    It is more than that. The DUP want to eliminate the UUP altogether and be the sole voice of unionism. This is something that needs to be accounted for when considering the internal politics of the Executive and the DUP/SF axis.

  • However, a person without legal training is very unlikely to have adequate skill and knowledge.

    Shite. The skillset for being a government minister is completely different from that of being a lawyer. (And if a lawyer, a lawyer with what experience and expertise?) I’ve worked with ‘expert’ ministers as a civil service policy wonk and rarely were they any good. Gordon Brown has appointed a record number of ‘experts’ to ministerial posts. How’s that working out for him?

    I certainly hope the Justice Minister, whoever he or she may be, takes a long hard look at the tight little world of the NI legal profession. I doubt a lawyer is best placed to do that.

    For example, the Alliance made the complaint about Iris Robinson’s remarks about homosexuals.

    No, an Alliance member was one of many people who made such complaints. Alliance isn’t the Chinese Communist Party, the Führerprinzip isn’t really a big thing for us, our members don’t have to check with Party HQ every time they want to take a ‘political’ action as private citizens.

    Personally, I don’t think that what Iris said was or should be illegal, just immoral, disgusting and abhorrent to all right-thinking people.

  • fin

    CS, One thing SF & the DUP understand is that having a SDLP MLA in the role before a SF MLA is easier all round. Its a job SF want and the DUP know sooner or later they’ll get it.

    Once the DUP were dragged onboard an awful lot of escape routes for them disappeared, and they’ve used up all their ‘jokers’ as far as London is concerned so they have to play the game by the rules now.

    SF is a single issue party, its all about Irish unity and anything and everything that moves in that direction is seen as a success by their supporters. Giving the SDLP P&J isn’t going to lose SF votes anyway, the SDLP have been trying to outgreen SF for a while, if they get the post that will stop.

    The fact that the DUP are worried about the TUV and want to wipeout the UUP put SF in a good negoatiating place in Downing St. which is why I think a post election date for P&J means it’ll go to the SDLP.

    MAYBE NOT, who knows, but I think SF came home with more than just an intent or even a date for P&J, there must have been more traded than that and I don’t think they were all that bothered about a ILA or the Maze Stadium, those kind of media wins are not SF’s kind of thing. I just have a feeling they got something that advances the cause.

  • joeCanuck

    Spot on, Comrade, about the Qualifications. His staff will take care of legalities. The Minister needs to be a capable (good is better) administrator and to have the overall vision to set policy.

  • Pete Baker

    fin

    “I just have a feeling they got something that advances the cause.”

    That’s a suitably vague claim given Sinn Féin’s previous assertions that they had secured firm commitments from the DUP to devolve policing and justice powers by May 2008..

    Guys

    Try to focus on the detail. Which, in this case, is the conditions the Alliance Party seem to be trying to impose ahead of any acceptance of the position of Justice Minister.

    As I said in the original post, “That’s a real sign of confidence in the NI Executive semi-detached polit-bureau..

  • Comrade Stalin

    Fin:

    CS, One thing SF & the DUP understand is that having a SDLP MLA in the role before a SF MLA is easier all round.

    I don’t agree. Sinn Fein do not want another Margaret Ritchie. If the justice minister takes the seat and manages to make a success of it, it will be very hard to remove whoever it is. If the SDLP manage to pull off credible successes on anti-social behaviour right in SF’s heartland, the results will be severely damaging to them. They are acutely aware of this threat and they wish to neutralize it. Hence they are signing up to a deal which benefits the DUP who can tell their supporters, in somewhat sectarian terms, that nationalists won’t be allowed to get their grubby hands on the job.

    Its a job SF want and the DUP know sooner or later they’ll get it.

    I agree, the events of the past few weeks, while tragic, and the mature approach shown by all of the major elected parties including SF have made the possibility of an SF justice minister seem more acceptable than before. I’d say they’ll be second in line for the seat but it could be years and, like I said, if the incumbent minister makes a success of the job and wishes to continue in it, it will be difficult to unseat him/her.

    Once the DUP were dragged onboard an awful lot of escape routes for them disappeared, and they’ve used up all their ‘jokers’ as far as London is concerned so they have to play the game by the rules now.

    I do not accept this argument, I believe that the DUP are in the position of strength here, although, like I said, recent events have improved SF’s standing. But I do agree with you on the conclusion, the logic points to an eventual SF justice ministry. But by the time that happens, politics here may have changed radically. If Alliance take the seat, I imagine they will stay in it for the remainder of this Assembly and the duration of the next – barring accidents. That’s a good chunk of 7 years. Could you have predicted 7 years ago where we would be now ?

    SF is a single issue party, its all about Irish unity and anything and everything that moves in that direction is seen as a success by their supporters.

    I agree that SF is a single issue party. I don’t agree with your analysis about their supporters who I believe are becoming restless. Their supporters want delivery on the issues that are important to them, particularly neigbourhood crime, and if the SDLP are seen to be delivering this will be acutely damaging for SF. I also think that SF may have misjudged the Catholic middle class over academic selection.

    I don’t believe that the SDLP are floundering as the UUP are. I believe that SF’s participation in government is damaging it in the long term; they’re simply inexperienced and incompetent.

    Giving the SDLP P&J isn’t going to lose SF votes anyway, the SDLP have been trying to outgreen SF for a while, if they get the post that will stop.

    Sinn Fein are not underestimating the threat posed by the SDLP – look at how they ganged up with the DUP on Margaret Ritchie. It’s not the constitutional matter that is causing this friction. It’s bread and butter politics.

    The fact that the DUP are worried about the TUV and want to wipeout the UUP put SF in a good negoatiating place in Downing St. which is why I think a post election date for P&J means it’ll go to the SDLP.

    If you think that you are ignoring the political realities. You are clearly an SDLP supporter 🙂

    I don’t see how the DUP vs TUV spat in any way effects Sinn Fein’s negotiating position. Fundamentally it is Sinn Fein who are in the weakest position. Without the Assembly, they are nothing, and the marginal position of the British government in Westminster means that unionism has trump cards that it can play. The Irish government likewise is not interested in helping to shore up a party that has declared its desire to overturn the existing Irish political ascendancy.

    Sinn Fein do not want the SDLP taking the seat. That is the case now, and it will remain the case post the Euro elections.

    MAYBE NOT, who knows, but I think SF came home with more than just an intent or even a date for P&J,

    The important detail to me is that SF were essentially defeated in the argument that they tried to pick with the DUP and it was made clear that the DUP would be determining the timetable – whatever it turns out to be. SF aren’t in a position to demand a timetable that suits them alone.

    there must have been more traded than that

    I wouldn’t count on that, SF have proven to be pretty crap negotiators.

    and I don’t think they were all that bothered about a ILA or the Maze Stadium, those kind of media wins are not SF’s kind of thing.

    I don’t believe so, as SF spent a lot of airtime rabbiting on about precisely these matters.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Pete:

    Try to focus on the detail. Which, in this case, is the conditions the Alliance Party seem to be trying to impose ahead of any acceptance of the position of Justice Minister.

    Yes, Pete. How dare they refuse to allow themselves to be pushed around!

  • fin

    Pete, SF weren’t the only ones who thought there was a firm commitment from the DUP on P&J.

    At the SDLP were also in the frame for the role.

    The Alliance said they didn’t want the job, and then said they wanted it. To have a thread on their conditions for taking the role is pointless for two reasons.

    1) They might not get offered it.

    2) They already said they wanted the job, so no need to sell it to them. It wouldn’t ,look good for a party to be so uncertain, no, yes, er no. Anyway he SDLP will happily take the post with minimum conditions as its a way back into been meaningful in NI politics .

    The Alliance is considered unionist with a little “u” so they are also the DUP’s opposition for the unionist vote, hence the DUP should be happier to give it to the SDLP.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Pete, SF weren’t the only ones who thought there was a firm commitment from the DUP on P&J.

    Just goes to show that not everyone is sensible enough to only rely on what they have in writing.

    At the SDLP were also in the frame for the role.

    The SDLP were never seriously in the frame for the role.

    The Alliance said they didn’t want the job, and then said they wanted it. To have a thread on their conditions for taking the role is pointless for two reasons.

    I think Alliance were cold on the idea to begin with, but I don’t recall any representatives saying “hey, we want the job”. The comments that I have seen have generally been framed in “we might take the job if ..” terms.

    1) They might not get offered it.

    SDLP supporters already have a penchant for ignoring political realities but this really takes the biscuit.

    2) They already said they wanted the job, so no need to sell it to them.

    Where are you getting this ?

    Anyway he SDLP will happily take the post with minimum conditions as its a way back into been meaningful in NI politics.

    The SDLP would be very foolish to settle for “minimal conditions”. Aren’t they tired of being the DUP/SF axis’ bitch ?

  • Vision Razor

    [i]”The Alliance is considered unionist with a little “u” so they are also the DUP’s opposition for the unionist vote, hence the DUP should be happier to give it to the SDLP.
    Posted by fin on Mar 23, 2009 @ 12:07 AM[/i]

    Perhaps you should inform Kieran McCarthy and Séan Neeson they are MLA’s for a unionist party, I’m sure it would be news to them.

    Looking at it from a neutral point of view (as I don’t vote for any party in particular) I don’t see the Alliance doing anything wrong here. I think the problem is people are too used to the Alliance bending over when told to grab their political ankles. This won’t happen any more as they have learned from mistakes they have made.

    I think people around here are too used to the fundamentalist politics of the DUP and Sinn Fein, and sadly have no idea that circumstances and terms can indeed change.

  • fin

    VR, regardless of how the Alliance want to portray themselves they where born out of the NUM, and some years ago were even designated a unionist party in Stormont, and you’d better tell Sean and Kieran to avoid the partys entry on Wiki or they will be shocked
    “The Party’s founding principles were expressly in favour of Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom….”

    If walks like a duck…….

    CS, the role has different values to different parties, it is a much bigger prize to nationalism (and so to the SDLP) to have a nationalist in the role, than to unionism to have a unionist in it.

    Its Monday morning and I don’t have time to google all the references, but heres the SDLPyouth take on it
    http://sdlpyouth.com/news/2008/09/17/david-ford-delaying-implementation-of-policing-justice-role/

    and here’s the BBC,
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/foyle_and_west/7620401.stm

    if I remember, Ford prattled on about “never say never” blah blah

    Also I’d forgotten about d’hondt, which gives the SDLP another claim (if they’re right)which according to the BT they are

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/no-decision-on-justice-minister-post-says-ford-14237714.html

  • Comrade Stalin

    fin:

    The Alliance is considered unionist with a little “u” so they are also the DUP’s opposition for the unionist vote, hence the DUP should be
    happier to give it to the SDLP.

    I missed this part.

    I thought I had explained this in detail. It suits the DUP that the first occupant of the justice ministry seat is not a nationalist. This prevents Jim Allister talking about the DUP “putting a nationalist (read : “Catholic”) in charge of our police and courts” – pre or post Euro elections. Allister will, by the way, still be a threat after the Euros whether he loses or not; he’ll be weakened but not dead. We’ve another assembly election in two years and he will need to be confronted there again, most likely for the last time (barring accidents).

    I think that is more important to the DUP than the frankly silly idea that Alliance might take votes off the DUP to any significant extent.

    Secondly, the DUP won’t decide alone who the candidate is; the DUP and SF do that together. SF won’t allow an SDLP justice ministry for the reasons I explained above. Do yourself a big favour and stop deluding yourself with these bizarre fantasies.

    West Belfast was an SDLP parliamentary seat for a long time. It’s reasonable to assume that the constituency has a large contingent of ex-SDLP voters who switched to Sinn Fein. In an environment where SF in West Belfast are coming under fire for being ineffective, particularly in the A’Town News, and where there is a serious anti-social problem that SF are struggling to cope with, it’s not impossible to conceive of the SDLP regaining traction via the justice ministry. SF will not allow that to happen.

  • Granni Trixie

    Traditionally even Alliance people find it difficult to define themselves – not a weakness but a reflection of the Party’s truely diverse nature. Take the case of say a Protestant interested in structural change and reforms leading to a fairer society in NI – to which other party would they have turned?. Diversity also means that Alliance internally battle through many differences,again a strength.

    So whilst it would be a risk for them to take on the justice portfilio (ie a poisoned chalice),it is perfectly consistent with their track record,going back to their roots in the NUM which camnpaigned for a BOR.

  • fin

    cs, as a much smaller party than they were the SDLP have been trying to outgreen SF for some time, which is a big leap from their ‘post nationalist stance’ which contributed to their downfall, giving them P&J will push them back to their natural ground (somewhere in between) and take the pressure of SF for not been green enough, which is an issue for them at the moment.

    if SF are failing in WBelfast than they’re failing, the SDLP getting P&J isn’t going to change that.

    As you said once Europe is over its 2 years until the next election, the TUV is now the only anti-agreement party in NI, can they sustain that for 2 years if things continue to bed down, I don’t think so, Jim is very light on policies

    Can you justify giving a cabinet post to a party with 7 seats?

    what about d’Hondt, do the SDLP have a legal challenge if the role goes elsewhere?

    The only thing agreed was it wouldn’t go to the DUP or SF. Technically its the SDLPs turn, you may say SF may not want them to have it (personally I think they do) but do SF want to be seen publically doing a nationalist party out of a cabinet post which is rightfully theirs? and defending it in court?

  • Comrade Stalin

    … Allister will, by the way, still be a threat after the Euros whether he loses or not; he’ll be weakened but not dead. We’ve another assembly election in two years and he will need to be confronted there again …

    And don’t forget the Westminster election which will be held in 2010 at the latest – maybe even this Autumn.

    I presume the TUV, unless their EP vote is laughably small, will still be interested in challeging the DUP for some (or all) of the Westminster seats.

  • fin

    Horseman, who would the TUV put up for election?
    What seats would they stand a chance of taking? Willie McCrea in Antrim South, or maybe split the unionist vote in Upper Bann or Belfast North and SF might sneak in.

    Incidently giving the SDLP P&J is more likely to help them retain Belfast South as opposed to overturning a 20,000 SF majority in WBelfast.

    How much can the TUV affect Assembly elections, possibly change the order that MLA’s are elected, but can they sneak seats for themselves or the UUP?

  • fin,

    … who would the TUV put up for election?

    Good question. They don’t seem to have many (any?) talented members, and few enough who are even prepared to stand up and admit their membership. Maybe Turgon in Fermanagh/South Tyrone?

    What seats would they stand a chance of taking?

    None whatsoever.

    Willie McCrea in Antrim South, or maybe split the unionist vote in Upper Bann or Belfast North and SF might sneak in.

    In any election above the local councils their only role is as splitters. But in order to be consistent they would have to stand against the parties they claim have ‘strayed’. If they don’t stand, then they are tacitly accepting the DUP and/or UUP candidates as representaive of unionism. The choice for the TUV is simple, though difficult – stand or go away.

  • were even designated a unionist party

    …er, against their better judgement, after being begged so to do by the SDLP, in order to save the institutions from Séamus Mallon’s fit of pique and Trimble’s inability to manage his own party, on the back of promises by the SDLP, UUP and NIO which were honoured only in the breach.

    And people wonder why Alliance are playing so hard to get over the Justice Ministry?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Comrade Stalin

    re. “The important detail to me is that SF were essentially defeated in the argument”. Yes. I gathered that from your many posts praising the DUP and you denial of the political reality that there is absolutely no way Police and Justice would be at the stage it is at without 1) pressure from SF to collapse the assembly and 2) pressure form the Englezes of Dublin Rule.

    Deputy Dodsy and Robbo have both explicitly admitted the 2nd point and having promised to smash Sinn Fein they would harldy admit the first point.

    The Police and Justice bill which has now been passed into law has not been discussed on Slugger (as a thread – why not Pete – Ed). Jimbo (TUV) will suggest, based on the exisitng bill, that Marty will indirectly influence judicial appointments and will use this as his main weapon to Lundify Robbo and Dodsy.

    What most Unionists dont seem to get is that SF support for law and order is conditional on the Transfer of police and Justice and failure to implement it will result in a break down in the political process and probably the peace process as the GFA/STA is essentailly a deal betwen the Provos and the Englezes. The real danger is that the right wing ideology that plagues some parts of the Tory party may influence Posh Boy David Cameron(PBDC) to try to row back on this deal and they may be using Wee Reggie as a kind of Trojan dormouse to this effect with the UU now aligning themselves alongside the TUV.

  • Comrade Stalin

    cs, as a much smaller party than they were the SDLP have been trying to outgreen SF for some time, which is a big leap from their ‘post nationalist stance’ which contributed to their downfall,

    You think the SDLP are failing because they are trying to be too nationalist ? I don’t think so, I think it’s because they’re crap. Like the UUP they have assumed they are the natural party to represent the nationalist electorate and they were caught short when Sinn Fein outflanked them.

    giving them P&J will push them back to their natural ground (somewhere in between) and take the pressure of SF for not been green enough, which is an issue for them at the moment.

    This is a very confused analysis. Sinn Fein are quite clearly as concerned about being too green as they are about securing devolved policing and justice powers. You even said yourself – quite correctly in my view – that Sinn Fein want to have the justice ministry eventually. Now you seem to be saying that SF do not want it right away in case it damages their nationalist credentials ?

    I think that’s all nonsense. Sinn Fein want the seat because crime, particularly anti-social behaviour, is a serious problem that their electorate wants them to tackle.

    if SF are failing in WBelfast than they’re failing, the SDLP getting P&J isn’t going to change that.

    The SDLP gettng policing and justice powers will not change their electoral fortunes in an area dogged by crime and anti-social behaviour, where the local people are practically on their knees for someone to sort it out ? How do you figure ?

    As you said once Europe is over its 2 years until the next election, the TUV is now the only anti-agreement party in NI, can they sustain that for 2 years if things continue to bed down, I don’t think so, Jim is very light on policies

    Yeah, as if being light on policies has ever stopped a unionist making electoral progress before. Are you really naive enough to believe that our current swathe of politicians are there because of their far-reaching innovative policies?

    Allister isn’t a threat because of policies, he’s a threat due to the potential he has to rally the no-men. I don’t think he has the charisma or the skill to actually pull it off, but it would be folly to underestimate him.

    Can you justify giving a cabinet post to a party with 7 seats?

    The Green Party in the RoI has not one, but two cabinet posts with only 6 seats. So yes, I can.

    what about d’Hondt, do the SDLP have a legal challenge if the role goes elsewhere?

    No, because the law is being changed.

    The only thing agreed was it wouldn’t go to the DUP or SF. Technically its the SDLPs turn, you may say SF may not want them to have it (personally I think they do)

    That’s one argument. The other argument is that d’Hondt should be re-run from the start with the entire cabinet being reappointed. This makes sense as the seats are already doled out in the order of how important they are. And if that happened you’d bet the SDLP would still not get the seat (although it would be entitled to another one). That is assuming that the DUP and SF did not decide to combine two existing departments, such as for example the DOE and DRD.

    But that’s all academic. The law is being changed so that the ministry is appointed by cross-community vote in the assembly. End of story.

    but do SF want to be seen publically doing a nationalist party out of a cabinet post which is rightfully theirs?

    Well, yes evidently they don’t care, because that is what they are doing.

    and defending it in court?

    On what basis ? There is no legislation that says that the justice ministry is to be appointed by d’Hondt.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Yes. I gathered that from your many posts praising the DUP and you denial of the political reality that there is absolutely no way Police and Justice would be at the stage it is at without 1) pressure from SF to collapse the assembly and 2) pressure form the Englezes of Dublin Rule.

    So why did SF back down from their requirement of a May date which they insisted had been agreed then ? Why are the powers still not devolved almost a year after the ministry was supposed to be in place ?

    Deputy Dodsy and Robbo have both explicitly admitted the 2nd point and having promised to smash Sinn Fein they would harldy admit the first point.

    Great. So why haven’t they published a firm date then ?

    The Police and Justice bill which has now been passed into law has not been discussed on Slugger (as a thread – why not Pete – Ed). Jimbo (TUV) will suggest, based on the exisitng bill, that Marty will indirectly influence judicial appointments and will use this as his main weapon to Lundify Robbo and Dodsy.

    I agree that this is possible. The DUP will be in a position to counter that by ensuring that the ministry has operational independence.

    I think by the time SF get around to taking the justice ministry, the idea won’t seem so bad. Hardly anyone notices even today when there is, for example, an SF Lord Mayor in Belfast. This is what will really neuter the TUV.

    What most Unionists dont seem to get is that SF support for law and order is conditional on the Transfer of police and Justice and failure to implement it will result in a break down in the political process and probably the peace process as the GFA/STA is essentailly a deal betwen the Provos and the Englezes.

    Nobody believes this, given that SF have backed down from their negotiating position – twice. They were also forced to pay their dues before they were allowed into government – by standing down the IRA, by decommissioning all their arms, and by signing up to policing in advance of it being devolved. SF risked everything to do all of the above because they have no choice; they are in a weak position and unionism knows it.

    The calculation is that SF are more afraid of being without an executive than the unionists are afraid of joint authority. You may argue otherwise, but if you’re going to do so, you’re going to have to find an argument which explains SF’s weakness at negotiation.

    The real danger is that the right wing ideology that plagues some parts of the Tory party may influence Posh Boy David Cameron(PBDC) to try to row back on this deal and they may be using Wee Reggie as a kind of Trojan dormouse to this effect with the UU now aligning themselves alongside the TUV.

    The deal will take place if the DUP and SF wish it. If they do not, then it will not happen.

  • fin

    CS, I meant that the SDLP going ‘post nationalist’ damaged them, hence their rapid move back to been a nationalist party,

    Sf want P&J, it eases the path for the SDLP to have it first. Giving it to the SDLP will move them back from been overly green, hence allowing SF to stop been overly green and in turn stopping the DUP from been overly unionist (as the UUP are playing the same game as the SDLP, ie out oranging the DUP)by easing the pressure

    The law is changing regarding D’Hondt? I had no idea whats the new system going to be.

    The greens are in government (poor them) with FF hence their cabinet posts, democracy is only slowly been introduced to NI so that system of govt. is a long way off.

    I’m only aware of the DUP and FS agreeing to not take the post. I’ve not heard of any arguement supporting electing a new cabinet, or again, that that d’hondt system was been been retired, when has all this happened? as the post is likely to be created within the next 6 months surely legislation needs to be agreed now on these new issues you’ve told me about? incidently do you know the make up of the new cabinet and what system are they going to use to allocate ministries?

    If a cross community vote to allocate the post do the DUP and SF need additional votes to carry their nomination on either side? the DUP have 36 seats and the UUP 18 incidently.

    If the Alliance party don’t know if they’re going to be offered the post, how can you say SF aren’t teeing up the SDLP for the role? again with the d’Hondt replacement, and the forthcoming new cabinet you’ve informed us about are you also privy to inside info on P&J aswell?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    CS,

    I would not deny that the DUP have been successful in slowing the process down but trying to pretend that the DUP are not moving against their will on this is simply silly – particularly as they have FECKING SAID SO.

    re. “I agree that this is possible. The DUP will be in a position to counter that by ensuring that the ministry has operational independence.”

    You may be right but that is why I was puzzling that there was not a thread on the bill itself (Pete – why no thread? -Ed) because as I understand it the OFDFM does have a role.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I would not deny that the DUP have been successful in slowing the process down but trying to pretend that the DUP are not moving against their will on this is simply silly – particularly as they have FECKING SAID SO.

    Like I already said, if you’re going to claim that Plan B (JA) is acceptable to Sinn Fein, you need to explain why they keep backing down every time there is a confrontation over this and other matters with the DUP. I’m all ears.

    There’s no point in having a thread on the bill itself. The legislation is a technicality, especially given that the exact details of the justice ministry haven’t been agreed or publicized by the DUP/SF – further legislation may be necessary.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Comrade Stalin,

    “why they keep backing down every time there is a confrontation over this and other matters with the DUP”

    ?????

    the DUP clearly agreed to setting the process in motion (as has happened) in return for SF not pulling the plug in November.

    re. “The legislation is a technicality”. This is the framework for what the DUP have agreed to – suggesting that it is not important is just silly. I will be surpised if Jimbo (TUV) is not making reference to it in his election campaign.

  • Comrade Stalin

    the DUP clearly agreed to setting the process in motion (as has happened) in return for SF not pulling the plug in November.

    I don’t think they “clearly” agreed to anything new that was not already agreed in the StAA, which committed the parties to a devolved justice ministry. Robinson made a number of speeches in public, prior to the SF boycott, where he indicated that he favoured a devolved ministry. This is very much at odds with your theory that the DUP did not favour this and were forced into it.

    Let me phrase my point in different terms. If the threat of joint authority is or was so serious, and meant that the DUP had no choice but to do a deal, then why did SF not make devolution of powers a precondition to their acceptance of the PSNI ?

    re. “The legislation is a technicality”. This is the framework for what the DUP have agreed to – suggesting that it is not important is just silly.

    Have you actually read the Bill ? Except for the Minister being appointed by a cross-community vote, there’s no juicy stuff in it at all, that I can see. You’re welcome to put me right : here

    As far as I can see, the Assembly needs to pass an Act creating the new department. I assume that this Act will contain the details of how the department functions. I would note that this legislation is not yet in evidence.

    I will be surpised if Jimbo (TUV) is not making reference to it in his election campaign.

    I’m sure he will, and he will suggest as you just did that the legislation constitutes the agreement on this matter. It doesn’t. The talks process and agreement on how the new department will be set up and function has not yet taken place. The only thing I can see that the DUP and SF say they are agreed on is the timetable – which remains secret.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    CS,

    first you tell me there is no need for a thread on the bill then you start telling me to argue with you over the bill. You are a great man for the tail-chasing.

    We need a pinhead dancer extraordinaire for this task – to root out the detail of the bill – can you think of anyone suitable (Pete Baker? Ed).

    The difficulty, if there is one, for the DUP will be if body that appoints the judiciary is itself appointed by the OFDFM – and as Jimbo sips his last drink in the last chance saloon he knows that if he is to survive past the Euro elections this will present his best chance.