The possibility of a Sinn Fein first minster has been debated on a number of occasions, not least here on slugger. The poor performance by the DUP in the European elections has of course brought this possibility back to centre stage.
Reg Empey has laid all the blame for this possibility with the DUP in an interview with the News Letter:
“They came up with the designation route which meant that the largest (party) designation would determine who the First Minister was. They thought that would leave them in the position that they could automatically just be elected without having a joint vote. Then the Shinners spotted the obvious flaw in that and persuaded Hain, with acquiescence from the DUP, to move to the largest party.
“But the DUP thought that by playing the ‘top the poll’ card it would suppress us which it did because in the last week of the Assembly elections that line was played very hard and did have an impact. Now they have been hoist by their own petard because they have tried that tactic again and it’s backfired. I think it’s going to look very hollow in any future election.
Not only is the DUP hoist on its own petard to quote Empey but it is clear that their political opponents are going to continue to remind people of this issue and who created it. Of course the DUP could try to negotiate their way round this one but that would undoubtedly require them to make other concessions to Sinn Fein.