Wilford’s snap-shot of Assembly performance

Willie Graham in the Irish News has done a fascinating little round-up of opinion on Assembly performance after two years, headed by a very diplomatic Rick Wilford, professor of politics at Queen’s and probably the leading academic analyst. Rick plumps for an Executive of 7, including Alliance for J&P, thus opening the door to the designation “other” for seats round the table. Wouldn’t it be great if…?? Wilford extracts.

The same kind of unity of purpose ( shown after the Army and PSNI murders) has not yet been fully tested at executive level and the real challenge for it now is whether the ministers are up to the economic crisis.

On the party share-out, he confirms

If it was six in the first instance it would be 2 DUP, 2 SF, 1 UUP and 1 SDLP. So you would still have the four parties there. If we had seven it is my understanding this would go to Alliance – the policing and justice ministry – if they want to take it. But the balance then between unionists and nationalists (given the first and deputy first minister as well) would be four-four.Currently, it is seven-five, unionist-nationalist. It would make some sort of difference in terms of communal designation of ministers. The difference would be if Alliance took on policing and justice you would have an ‘other’ [designation] around the cabinet table. So it does not mean it would exclude the UUP or SDLP, but they would have only one ministry each.?

It is estimated that cutting the departments could save up to £60 million per year.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London