Empey blames DUP for possible SF first minister

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.

  • Big Maggie

    I wouldn’t mind a Shinner FM as long as it isn’t Martin McGuinness. He would not be up to the job.

    Bairbre de Brún would be my first choice: a rock-steady woman with the ability to see many sides of various issues.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Turgon,

    certainly the DUP miscalulated badly on this – and it is very similar to the ‘disaster’ of SF topping the poll – but in both cases it is only of symbolic significance.

    Hopefully the embarassment of it all wont be too much for them and they wont throw in the Stormo towel just because they are being teased by Wee Reggie and Jimbo.

  • Friday the 12th seen the first meeting of the IRFU in Tyrone, over the past few weeks the 32CSM in Tyrone had been working hard to promote the Forum meeting.

    Over 150 Republicans packed St Patrick’s hall in Coalisland some coming from as far as Kildare to take part in the debate, scheduled to start at 8 o’clock the meeting was delayed as the RUC/PSNI were stopping and harassing people on all roads leading into Coalisland. The Crown Forces maintained a heavy presence in the area throughout the evening.

    Tommy Gorman from Belfast, A former POW and life long Republican Activist chaired the meeting, he spoke of the history of St Patrick’s Hall having been the assembly point in Tyrone for the Volunteers preparing to travel from the area to take part in the Easter Rising and he spoke of the long history of struggle in Tyrone for Irish Freedom.

    Represented on the platform were spokespersons for the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (32CSM) the Republican Network for Unity (RNU) and Laurence O’Neill an Independent Irish Republican. There were other prominent Republicans in attendance.

    Each Member of the platform spoke on behalf of their Organisations and laid out their view on the current problems Republicans face and gave their arguments for Unity within Republicanism. It was pointed out that the IRFU was not an Organisation itself but a platform for debate on which to build a unified Republican alternative to British Rule in Ireland it was pointed out that everyone was welcome to take part in the forum and that in no way did it interfere with the autonomy or integrity of any group or individual.

    The microphone was then opened to the floor and for over an hour those in attendance put their questions and views to the panel who in turn replied to the questions asked, the debate was constructive and moved from issues such as elections as to the future shape the IRFU might take and all avenues of Republican activism were discussed.

    Tommy Gorman closed proceedings by pointing out Irish Republicans had suffered hard over the years for their beliefs at the hands of the British. He said that Republicans were now being ridiculed by former Comrades and that this ridicule must be swept aside if we are to do the Republican work we have done in the past, he said that we owe it to the men and women who gave their lives and that we should let nothing stand in the way of the work that needs to be done to rebuild Irish Republicanism.

    The meeting ended and refreshments were served.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    Can you guys tell us why it is you’re being so nice to the UUP when everyone knows that they were one of the chief architects of the present political arrangements and, ostensibly at least, support the continuance of those arrangements ?

    How can it be politically principled for Jim Allister to appear to encourage his supporters to transfer to UCUNF ? It looks awfully to me like this is a personal vendetta for Jim rather than an effort to forge a principled “traditional” unionist stance. How does this serve the interests of unionism ?

  • “they were one of the chief architects of the present political arrangements”

    UUP? Hardly, Comrade Stalin. Whatever gave you that idea?

  • Big Maggie

    Comrade Stalin,

    “How can it be politically principled for Jim Allister to appear to encourage his supporters to transfer to UCUN* ?”

    I was asking myself the selfsame question. Throughout Jim Allister’s campaign I detected little principle much less the vaunted integrity. His sole platform seemed to hinge on keeping the taigs out of government anywhere and maintaining the union. I strongly doubt that the union has benefited.

  • Comrade Stalin

    UUP? Hardly, Comrade Stalin. Whatever gave you that idea?

    Playing games, Nevin ?

    I was asking myself the selfsame question. Throughout Jim Allister’s campaign I detected little principle much less the vaunted integrity. His sole platform seemed to hinge on keeping the taigs out of government anywhere and maintaining the union. I strongly doubt that the union has benefited.

    That’s pretty much my view, but I don’t think it’s Turgon’s.

  • Diluted Orange

    Blame? So we have to place blame on the outcome of a demo-[i]cratic[/i] (or should that be -[i]graphic[/i]?) process now?

    Surely the ‘blame’, if any can be apportioned within the 2 tribe mentality of the NI politik (my daddy hated (T#igs/Prods) ipso-facto so should I) to a particular party then it should be put squarely on the shoulders of the SDLP for wrestling the title of the ‘Shittest of the Two Tribe Also-Rans’ from the UUP. That, and that alone, leads to the larger % of X thousand Nationalist voters, who will always vote for Nationalist parties, opting for Sinn Fein, not whoever wins the bunfight over the fence between the DUP and the UUP (and now the TUV).

    Interestingly, is this all there is left to fight for within Unionism – who is most at fault for installing a SF person as First minister of an empty house?

    Why would any of the gangsters up in Stormont care, or even notice, who was First Minister and who wasn’t anyway, seeing as they are never there?

    Personally, I think if the NI electorate are thick enough to vote en-masse for SF and the DUP ad-finitum then they deserve a SF First minister. Here’s hoping its Catriona Ruane – that might make the lot of you wake up and wise up.

  • aquifer

    At the risk of being a bit obvious.

    DUP do not oppose SF, they compliment them.

    SF’s politics would be preposterous without the DUP.

    DUP’s not really british politics are preposterous, but less so with SF round the table, when they can look relatively british. A bad brit caracature that gives SFs cant unearned resonance.

  • Reader

    war of the flea: Friday the 12th seen the first meeting of the IRFU in Tyrone
    Bad timing, with so many of the more prominent members away in South Africa this month.

  • fin

    Surely the ‘blame’, if any can be apportioned within the 2 tribe mentality of the NI politik

    Surely its bigger than NI, as one tribe wants union with the larger tribe(s) on the neighbouring island, while the other tribe wants to be re-united with the rest of its tribe in the South.

  • John O’Connell

    Well said, Aquifer.

  • Driftwood

    Within a year, the Trumpton assembly will be defunct, and, hopefully NI will be run by Cameron Direct.
    The Republic’s govt is past caring, more worried about the IMF. Adams will be in Purdysburn, and Agent McGuinness will be reset by his handlers at Palace Barracks to promise socialist utopia about 2060.
    So it goes…

  • question mark question mark

    Reg is such a knob. Clearly the blame lies with him and any other so called ‘unionist’ parties which have the tenacity to run against the DUP

  • soandso

    Fully agree with Aquifer.

    It’s cyclical, bigotted politics. And an SF FM will be no worse than DUP FM. They both just live in the past and are wanting to live in the past, constantly want to bring up old feuds and aren’t actually interested in NI just each are out to help and capitalize on the extrmists.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Comrade Stalin,

    thats a fair point about the motivation of the TUV – and it probably applies to the other Unionist parties as well – they really hate each other more than they hate SF – Popular Front for the liberation of Judea etc.

    The simple fact is that the Englezes cut a deal with violent Nationlaism ie the Unionists’ (understandable ) public enemy number number 1 and instead of getting angry with the Englexes they proceed to kick eight colours of red-white-and-blue out of each other whilst Nationalism looks on from the sidelines.

    Mad fecking Unionist Paddies always fecking fighting with each other.

  • LURIG

    All this Unionist Sinn Fein hating is really doing wonders for powersharing, NOT! The Shinners don’t really have to do anything for their votes, Unionists do all the work for them. I know people who were going to vote for the SDLP in the European election but changed their minds when Dodds & Allister engaged in their ‘I hate the Shinners more than you’ circus. De Bruin sat back and lapped the cream up with a big smile. This at a time too when Sinn Fein’s dodgy performance in the Executive was coming under scrutiny within Nationalism. The DUP & TUV ensured that it was back to the old sectarian headcount and now Empey and his ridiculous non party are doing the same. This Unionist in fighting is great sport altogether and will bring about British withdrawel far quicker than any Republican could. Talk about the death of a thousand self imposed cuts?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Lurig: “All this Unionist Sinn Fein hating is really doing wonders for powersharing, NOT! The Shinners don’t really have to do anything for their votes, Unionists do all the work for them. I know people who were going to vote for the SDLP in the European election but changed their minds when Dodds & Allister engaged in their ‘I hate the Shinners more than you’ circus.”

    A statement in which Lurig reveals the other half of the Northern Irish problem — the preference to use votes for sticking thumbs in eyes rather than expressing one’s political beliefs.

  • Silverline

    If Martin Maguiness becomes first minister it is becauce the TUV split the vote.

  • Reader

    Silverline: If Martin Maguiness becomes first minister it is becauce the TUV split the vote.
    While I prefer a three way split to allow for more political shading and policy development, really it’s DUP that is looking for a reason to exist now. They can only cruise on the past for so long…

  • Does anyone know if DUP/UUP electoral pacts now dead in the water?

  • frustrated democrat

    IRFU

    How dare they hijack this acronym it is an all Ireland body and has been for over 100 years, go get your own.

    Pro UK Parties

    Inevitably in time the 3 pro UK groupings will coalesce into the Conservatives and Unionists. This grouping offers the most secure future for all people in the pro UK camp and has the power to achieve results for NI the others do not.

    It will take time as the other 2 groupings finally find they have no agenda to follow the TUV will become outdated as time passes, in 10 years who will be worrying about an organisation that hasn’t functioned for 20 years and most of the senior members have retired?

    The DUP have already found their only vote winning strategies ‘smash SF’ and ‘top the poll’ are wearing thin, in another 10 years what will their policies be?

    The CU policies are based on the things that will always matter jobs, economy, education and health not local tribal issues that are already fading.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    FD,

    well said re. IRFU – fecking cheek of them.

    RE. no more local tribal issues – excellent news that can only mean the UU/Tories are giving up being Unionist and ditching their tribalism and is in line with their stated policy of no strategic interest in our country and as reflected in the GFA.

  • “Playing games, Nevin ?”

    Comrade Stalin, I hoped you might be able to defend your assertion that the UUP was ‘one of the chief architects’. It’s my understanding that were able to raise objections to the draft plans and have some details altered but that doesn’t by any stretch of the imagination make them a chief architect. Of course, it is possible that the limited UUP influence on changes was streets ahead of that provided by the Alliance Party.

  • fair_deal

    Never thought this rule change was a particularly bright idea. However, the TUV and UUP (SDLP even)would have made equal hay out of the former system, cross-community vote, by shouting about how Paisley/Robbo whoever was elected FM by SF/IRA votes. Personally think they should have stuck with the former – in for a penny argument.

    As regards the interview, the UUP say that there is no distinction between the First and Deputy Frist Ministership that it is a joint office with each holding equal power – IIRC they emphasised this repeatedly on the DUPpantsonfire site. Now they are trying to argue there is a distinction. They also said that things like topping the poll weren’t important in a PR election it was about getting the most Unionists elected. Now they are saying it is important. By all means attack but would a little bit of consistency be too much to ask for.

    CS and BM

    Yes the TUV support for the UUP is hypocritical but they are simply applying the my enemy rule. The ‘morality’ of such a position is also an interesting argument especially as such things are heavily emphasised in TUV arguments. The UUP is as much a part of the mandatory coalition as the DUP and jumped in to such arrangements for a lot less than the DUP.

  • cynic

    Post 19 Our old friend Silverline who once claimed to be an Alliance supporter on Slugger.

    You heard it here first folks. The new DUP mantra to scare the crap out of Unionists who don’t trust or believe that party any more and never will. Its been downhill since “Never, never, never” and boy didn’t the Topping the Poll strap line, repeated and repeated by the Northern Ireland MEP who got in without reaching a quota, backfire. There must be people in Dundela Avenue who are still scrapping the egg off their faces! I hear that quite a few of their MLA’s have been spotted hanging around the Jobmarket! Could be life style changes around the corner!

  • eranu

    Why is there a fuss about blame? Surely in a power sharing environment where all big enough parties get into the cabinet, then its only fair and logical that the largest party would get the first minister post. To try and prevent this is counterproductive to creating a normal society. The largest party gets to be first minister by getting the most votes, not because other parties are to blame, that’s daft.
    When i first heard of the “largest party in largest block get first minister, even if they aren’t the largest party altogether” rule, I thought, hang on, that’s a bit unfair, who in their right mind would agree to that?…
    Other than making a show of themselves on TV by going around trying not to say Northern Ireland, SF and SDLP would be doing pretty much the same things as any other party. Perhaps as first minister, SF wouldn’t need to pull a stunt every now and again such as a pro IRA event at Stormont.
    For normal politics to emerge all parties need to have a shot at all jobs. Then we can see whos good and whos crap, and vote accordingly. The main problem with SF is just having crap ministers making a mess of our lives. Imagine a few Ruanes incharge of education, health, and even finance, truly frightening. Imagine First Minister Ruane ! arrrrrgh!! But for normal politics to work everyone has to have a chance of having a go. If First Minister Ruane turned out to be crap then the public would only have themselves to blame.

  • frustrated democrat

    Sammy

    No more local tribal issues, just good old fashioned UK ones inside the UK based on all UK politics, but working closely with our friends in the RoI to get maximum economic benefit.

    strange code word is – ‘brown’ where did that come from.

  • Seymour Major

    I have already said, in response to Michael Shilliday’s earlier post – and will say it again – that this is not an issue which the CUs should distract themselves with.

    The substantial point is that there is no differece in authority and power between the OFM and the ODFM. In any event, it will only be a few years before the system is ready to be reformed, as sectarian politics becomes less significant.

  • “a little bit of consistency be too much to ask for”

    fair_deal, is that a plea to the leadership of New DUP?

    It felt the need to ‘jump in’ but had to jump further and into deeper water as the main nationalist party mantle moved from the SDLP to the slightly constitutional SF.

  • IJP

    I’m sure I should know this, but can someone tell me when this was amended?

    The Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006 reads, as an amendment to Schedule 16A of the 1998 Act, under Part 2 8 (1)-(4):
    The nominating officer of the largest political party of the largest political designation shall nominate a member of the Assembly to be the First Minister.

    When and how was this itself amended?

  • “it will only be a few years before … sectarian politics becomes less significant.”

    I wouldn’t put any money on that, SM, if I were you. 2016 is just around the corner and it’s likely that the Next Generation will be up for that heady brew.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    IJP,

    it would also be interesting to be reminded what the stated DUP loigc of the time was.

    SM,

    “it will only be a few years before the system is ready to be reformed”

    Presumably ,to have such confidence on this issue, you have at least a statement form one of the 2 Nationalist parties indicating their approval of reform?

  • danielmoran

    diluted orange… msg 8
    i think the duppers are ill advised to patronise those unionists who can still be bothered to go out to vote, because they[unionist voters] have seen this tactic for what it is. Insulting, and what used to be the dup base have caught themselves on after the blatant expenses rip off by dup mps who, ironically, are ast the front of the queue getting their snouts in the trough fed by the english taxpayers they claim to be as british as.
    contrast that with the shinners, [who have no claim of allegiange to britain [obviously] missing out on 2 million pounds not taking their seats on principle ate westminster. it’s easy to see where the hypocrites are.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Squabbling Unionism made sure the Shinners were brought into the peace process, giving them hope. That same squabbling Unionism continues to keep them in the process. When the GFA is fully implemented and there eventually becomes a Shinner first minister the tricolours will fly in victory once more from the black taxis, their hope has now turned to victory, and many will see their battle as won.

    Lets not fool ourselves here people, the process was not about Unionists or changing Unionism, it was about bringing Republicans and their supporters into a system of Governance where they wouldn’t or couldn’t resort to violent methods ever again.

    When Republicans try to anger us Unionists by suggesting our old Unionist government is gone, Unionism is dead and Republicans are governing Unionists now, etc, etc…. just take a deep breath and don’t get embroiled into their petty bigotry and upmanship. Remind yourself that you’ve done a good job transforming terrorists and their supporters into UK democrats.

  • Zoon Politikon

    Seems section 16 was substituted by a new section 16A IJP. Hope this helps. Although i was a bit unclear what you meant so forgive me if i erred.

    http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/content.aspx?LegType=Act+(UK+Public+General)&title=Northern+Ireland&Year=2006&searchEnacted=0&extentMatchOnly=0&confersPower=0&blanketAmendment=0&sortAlpha=0&TYPE=QS&PageNumber=1&NavFrom=0&parentActiveTextDocId=2962868&ActiveTextDocId=2962882&filesize=42169

    8 First Minister, deputy First Minister and Northern Ireland Ministers
    (1)For section 16 of the 1998 Act (First Minister and deputy First Minister) substitute— ….

  • Zoon Politikon
  • Zoon Politikon
  • Seymour Major

    “2016 is just around the corner and it’s likely that the Next Generation will be up for that heady brew”

    Unionists who are genuine about their desire to end sectarian politics need to understand that you have to rise above it as well. Making a fuss about who is first minister or indeed whether the First Minister attends a 100 year anniversary ceremony to celebrate 1916 just adds another brick to the sectarian wall.

    Some unionists need to have their nappies changed

  • Dev

    Right, so basically Sir Reg is complaining because a political party from a different community to his own might get the most votes in a future assembly election thereby entitling them to appoint the First Minister? How does this accord with UCUNF’s commitment to move beyond sectarian politics? I understand that Sir Reg may not think SF are the ‘right sort of people’ but if, of all the parties contesting, they get the most votes then why would it be a problem that the FM came from their party? I agree with eranu that this system for choosing the FM is preferable to the “largest party in largest block get first minister, even if they aren’t the largest party altogether” rule, it is more democratic & in lines with normal society. All this huffing & puffing over the possibility of a SF minister gives the impression that some within unionist politics are only willing to go along with powersharing so long as there is a FM from ‘their side’ or, at the very worst, from the ‘right sort’ of nationalist. Do you think SF voters didn’t find it distasteful when Big Ian was FM? I’m sure they are not thrilled with Robbo either, but seeing as them’s the rules they play along with the game .. perhaps Sir Reg should learn to do the same.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Dev,

    well said.

  • Big Maggie

    Zoon Politikon,

    Don’t use “URL” for hyperlinks. Use this:

    [a href=”http://URL”]your text then change the [] brackets to <>.

  • Mike C

    I’m with IJP on this one. I’ve checked the amended legislation and it is:

    “The nominating officer of the largest political party of the largest political designation shall nominate a member of the Assembly to be the First Minister”

    When was it amended post-St Andrews Agreement? I’d be interested to know. I even checked Zoon’s link and it came up with the same thing.

  • Conquistador

    the TUV will become outdated as time passes,

    I know that slugger commentators like to call Jim Allister old fashioned and dinousaur like. But do you really think that in 10 years’ time democracy won’t be ‘cool’ either. I think having a poor government people can’t vote out will piss more people off over time.

    he CU policies are based on the things that will always matter jobs, economy, education and health not local tribal issues that are already fading.

    Although in 10-15 years’ time the tories will probably be as loathed as Labour are today and presumably the CU’s will take a hit.

  • spellingbee

    IJP and Mike C,

    See s.8 of NI (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006 which inserts s.16C into the Northern Ireland Act 1998. See s.16C(6) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 as amended.

  • SM

    spellingbee

    Thanks for that – I too had check the section A only and been confused as to where the amendment people wrote of was.

  • Didn’t Jimbo and Reg belittle the Office referring to it as joint????

    so either it is a worthy symbolic position to hold or it isn’t….

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Big Maggie, explain that hyperlink stuff again

  • question mark question mark

    so either it is a worthy symbolic position to hold or it isn’t….

    It’s worth holding if the DUP hold it but it’s not worth holding if it goes to a nationalist

  • IJP

    Spelling Bee

    You’re well named – thanks! 🙂

  • Ulsters my homeland

    As someone who’s not up to this legal speak, does that mean that no Nationalist can be first minister unless there is a Nationalist majority in Stormont, not just simply a party majority?

    key word ‘designation’

  • Ulsters my homeland

    also, 16c part 3c mentions the political designation “Other”. Does that include Alliance, Greens, etc?

  • ZoonPol

    Thanks Big Maggie. In fact that is what i did do but it goes to show that the minute you don’t preview your work it goes mental. The others i didn’t even hit send but its been one of those days! Thanks to Spelling Bee too for the information.

  • spellingbee

    UMH,

    If the largest political designation is unionist, but the largest political party in terms of the number of Assembly seats is a nationalist party, the nationalist party is entitled to nominate the First Minister.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    thanks spellingbee, but can you clarify that a wee bit. Hope you don’t mind me being sceptical as this lawyer gargen is difficult to pin-down.

    “[i]the nationalist party is entitled to nominate the First Minister.”[/i]

    does this mean the first minister will be Nationalist?

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Why can’t people speak respond on this thread? Aye or No? What’s so friggin hard in saying aye or no?

    Do ye Politicians even know what the score is? If not, time for a new agreement, he,he.

    Bunch of good for nothing lay-a-bouts!

  • spellingbee

    UMH,

    The procedure for nominating the FM is that the nominating officer of the largest political party of the largest political designation shall nominate a to be FM. Where the largest political party is not of the largest political designation, the nominating officer of that party makes the nomination for FM. Arguably the nominating officer of the largest political party could nominate someone from a different party as FM. However, that’s unlikely. So, in the event that SF is the largest political party after the next Assembly election they have the right to nominate the FM.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    spellingbee, will there be a vote within Stormont that asks members to either be Unionist, Nationalist or other?

    and what about this “of the largest political party of the largest political designation”, so obviously its not worth entering unless you’re of the largest political designation?

    if this is so, what the fecking hell is Reg on about?

  • spellingbee

    Members have to designate as either nationalist, unionist or other. If the amount of members who designate as unionist exceeds those who designate as nationalist then the nominating officer of the largest unionist party nominates the FM. Where the largest party is nationalist albeit that there are more members designated as unionist then the nominating officer of that nationalist party nominates the FM

  • John

    UMH,
    Are you genuinely confused?

    If SF is the biggest party at the next election, then they will have the right to choose the First Minister. This is irrespective of whether or not more people vote for Unionist parties.

    This is in contrast to pre-St Andrews, where the largest party in the largest designation chose the First Minister i.e. if SF had 27% of votes and DUP were second with 26%, but 55% of people voted for Unionist parties, then the DUP, as the largest Unionist party would appoint the First Minister.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    spellingbee….so the idea that the largest party makes first minister is crap? is that true?

    People need to know this!

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Politicians/lawyers need to explain this whole thing, or else they will loose the electorate.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    john

    “[i]If SF is the biggest party at the next election, then they will have the right to choose the First Minister. This is irrespective of whether or not more people vote for Unionist parties.”[/i]

    This seems to be different to what spellingbee is saying.

  • spellingbee

    It’s exactly what I’m saying!

  • UMH,

    Spelling bee said:

    “Where the largest party is nationalist albeit that there are more members designated as unionist then the nominating officer of that nationalist party nominates the FM”

    The DUP strategy at St Andrew’s, it appears, was to use a form of political capitalism if you like, to ensure its continued dominance within Unionism, while ignoring the possibility of gaining support from nationalists or others.

    The balancing act, then, is to be the party that most effectively opposes SF/nationalism while sharing power. That balancing act was accepted following the experience of the Troubles – and is something Jim Allister has yet to provide an alternative to.

    The UUP approach is to be the biggest party within Unionism, and then the biggest party within a non-sectarian NI. This is significantly different, and it exposes the hypocrisy of the First Minister over what was known as the Shared Future strategy.

    The significance of the EU election result is it seems voters are drifting to the left and right of the DUP, more osmosis than centrifuge. That indicates that their fundamental strategy may be backfiring.

    The resultant debate on postponing P&J encapsulates the current DUP problem – do they respond by shifting to one side or the other, or do they continue to hope that their St Andrew’s strategy is indeed in their long-term benefit.

    Anyone better versed in DUP strategy may want to correct me, of course.

    On thread, Empey appears to be making life easier for the DUP by moving towards their St Andrew’s approach, in saying that Unionists are better served by ensuring the largest party remains as such.

  • IJP

    UMH

    It’s more complex still, this designation process.

    You may designate anything you like – it will be read as “Unionist”, “Nationalist” or “Other” whatever you write.

    All Alliance, Green and Independent Health members of the current Assembly actually wrote “United Community” under designation.

  • Big Maggie

    Ulsters my homeland,

    I can understand why people find those links a pain because the instructions at the bottom of the page on Slugger are gobbledygook:

    To hyperlink use: [a href=�http://URL]name[/a] then change the [] brackets to <>.

    [a href=�” WTF!!

    For clarity I’ve made an image of a sample link and uploaded it to here:

    The sample indicates how you’d link to this BBC page.

    I hope this helps!

  • Mike

    eranu

    It’s not actually a democratic norm to simply give the “first minister” post to the largest party in the legislature (or indeed the “largest party in the largest designation”) – especially not without a vote.

    This impression seems to be a bit of a misconception that exists here in the UK due to FTFP for (nationwide) parliamentary elections. So when the SNP finished with one seat more than Labour in th2 2007 Scottish Parliament election, it was just assumed Alex Salmond would be entitled to be First Minister – even though the existing Labour-Lib Dem coalition had won quite a few more seats than Salmond’s SNP-Green coalition could manage. But, and here’s the crucial point, Salmond has to be voted in as First Minister by the Scottish parliament (which he achieved partly thanks to the Conservatives and Lib Dems abstaining).

    Similarly, in Israel earlier this year, Kadima won the most seats but its leader Tzipi Livni didn’t become Prime Minister, as Likud’s Binyamin Netanyahu was able to put together a wider coalition.

    Now, part of this is irrelevent as the FM and dFM in NI occupy a joint office, and lead a mandatory coalition with an overwhelming majority in the Assembly.

    But it’s still pretty poor democratically to simply have the FM/dFM appointed/nominated/annointed.

    The pre-2006 system was more democratic. Trimble and Mallon, then Trimble and Durkan had to win a vote in the Assembly to become FM and dFM (a majority in the Assembly plus a majority in both main designations – whatever about the shenanigans in the latter case).

  • Mike

    I think this is what Empey is referring to – I’m going here from Ed Moloney’s very interesting account in his updated Paisley biography of negotiations from Leeds Castle through St Andrews up to Devolution Day.

    According to Moloney, the DUP wanted changes to the system of electing the First Minister and deputy First Minister as under the Belfast Agreement they had to be proposed and elected on a joint ticket, with a majority in the Assembly including a majority of the Unionist and Nationalist ‘designations’. Since this of course would have meant the embarrassment of Paisley and McGuinness on a joint ticket.

    That bit’s pretty widely known I would have thought.

    So in the St Andrews Agreement, it was altered so that the largest party in the largest designation would nominate the FM, and the largest party in the second largest designation would nominate the dFM.

    Shortly after St Andrews, Sinn Féin realised they’d ballsed up and missed a vital point in their negotiations – this change would guarantee a unionist FM even if they ended up as the largest party (whereas in the previous system, it would have been up for debate who was FM or dFM and vice versa).

    So they pleaded their case with the Government, who inserted a clause in the legislation (which was passed as the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006) stating that if the largest party in the largest designation wasn’t the overall largest party, then the overall largest party would nominate the FM.

    Now, you could have perhaps expected the DUP to be up in arms at this pretty significant diversion from the StAA, demanding the Government remove the clause from the Bill, tabling an amendment in Parliament, that sort of thing. But no, they didn’t. According to Maloney, they took no action as they realised that they could now appeal for votes on the basis that “if you don’t vote for the DUP, you’ll end up with SF as the largest party and Martin McGuinness as the First Minister” (meanwhile SF were perfectly aware they too could boost their vote with a similar tactic). I remember Bob McCartney pointing this change out at the time, but it wasn’t widely picked up on.

    Fast forward to 2009, and the DUP are already preparing for the next Assembly election with the “vote DUP or else you’ll get a SF FM” line.

  • Cushy Glenn

    “Friday the 12th seen the first meeting of the IRFU in Tyrone,”(sic)

    those rugby playing garrison bastards -taking that series of initials over a century before the patriots met last week. We proud superShinners will never bow to such feeble attrempts to undermine our historic goal…
    And don’t forget next weeks’ meeting of the
    Irish Freedom Association…
    the Grand Organisation for the Liberation of Ireland have an open air picnic on the 12th of next month….
    the Union of Democratic Republicans have a coffee morning coming up, held jointly with the Republicans Undaunted Caucus…

  • Zoon Politikon

    Subsection 1(1) Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006 (c. 53) substitutes, among other sections a new subsection 16C:

    (6)If at any time the party which is the largest political party of the largest political designation is not the largest political party—

    (a)any nomination to be made at that time under section 16A(4) or 16B(4) shall instead be made by the nominating officer of the largest political party; and
    (b)any nomination to be made at that time under section 16A(5) or 16B(5) shall instead be made by the nominating officer of the largest political party of the largest political designation.

  • Ruth Dudley Edwards

    “What’s so friggin hard in saying aye or no?”

    Some of us speak English and might want to say Yes

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    What a mess. Having successfully tied it down in the St Andrews agreement they let the government complete rewrite the terms of the St Andrews Agreement in the 2006 Act. Spellingbee is entirely correct that the amended sections as per S.16C (6) of the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006 (c. 53) changes the requirement in 16A(4) and 16B(5) which refer to the need for the largest party from the largest designation to make the relevant nominations to the FM and DFM posts. It’s certainly an untidy piece of drafting as one section of the act lays out one set of conditions and then goes ahead and changes it in a later section. All this to avoid the spectacle of a DUP FM and SF DFM being voted for on a joint ticket. A very foolish oversight by the DUP or a very risky approach depending on your outlook.

    At least under the UUP negotiated previous arrangement it needed a majority vote from both communities to elect a FM and DFM so SF probably never would have made it. I would say that with the likelihood of the TUV challenge in the 2011 Assembly elections and in my view the risk that they could take up to 10 seats from the DUP then it is almost certain SF will be the largest party in the 2011 Assembly. Martin McGuiness as FM hmm well done to the DUP for a beautiful piece of negotiating there then.

  • Kungbungchow

    Martin McGuiness as FM hmm well done to the DUP for a beautiful piece of negotiating there then.

    It’s time, for a fair deal

  • Cushy Glenn

    Hey Dunc- where’s your Lodge walking this Twelfth?
    Hope to see you on parade…er..lol

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    [i]“Hey Dunc- where’s your Lodge walking this Twelfth?
    Hope to see you on parade…er..lol”[/i]

    Not sure I see the relevance of that question but to answer it you won’t be seeing me on parade as I resigned from the Orange Order in 2003. There is also the fact that I currently live in England as well although I continue to look for work in NI to enable me to move back asap.

    I was a strong Christian and I joined the Orange and the Black and the Apprentice Boys at a time when I fully believed in them as fundamentally protestant Christian groupings. Once I stopped believing in god then it felt to me to be wholly hypocritical to remain a member of a Christian organisation. I still have sympathy for the orange order and I totally respect the members of my former lodge who are all decent, honorable men and it was a pleasure and a privilege to enjoy their company and fellowship for the years that I did. I don’t know where they will be walking but as a Glengormley lodge I assume it will be wherever the Antrim demonstration takes place this year.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Thanks for the hyperlink explanation Maggie

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Very well explained Mike. post 19, page 4.

  • Dev

    I wonder how inclined Republicans will be to further commitment to exclusively peaceful means of attaining their goals whilst it is made perfectly clear to them that their political representatives can never reach the top spot at the devolved assembly? This seems to be the logic of Sir Reg & some unionist posters on here, it’s ok to tolerate SF in the Assembly, it is just about possible to stomach having MMcG as deputy FM, but there’s no way there could be a SF FM (even though the position is co-equal with dFM so it shouldn’t matter as there already is a SF dFM).

    To my mind it is as unpleasant to see Big Ian or Robbo on the top spot as it would be to see someone from the Irish Union of Fascists .. sorry SF, but if enough of the electorate will it then it must be so – them’s the rules

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Maybe the decision from the DUP not to appeal the Governments change in the 2006 act, which allows the biggest party to be FM, isn’t all that bad an idea after all. It potentially allows for a Sinn Fein FM much sooner than the old system. The old system would allow for a Sinn Fein FM around the time of the 50+1 vote. Not a good idea as it would be easier for Sinn Fein to move their voters onto the next goal of a United Ireland.

    Maybe its better to keep the Republican community interested in UK democracy by fast-forwarding a Sinn Fein FM. It’ll give them a sense of achievement, undermined the need for a united Ireland and keep their supporters on the straight and narrow.

  • Big Maggie

    “What’s so friggin hard in saying aye or no?”

    Some of us speak English and might want to say Yes
    Posted by Ruth Dudley Edwards on Jun 17, 2009 @ 10:51 AM

    Have it your way. Next time I hear “The ayes have it” I’ll demand a translation into English.

  • Cushy Glenn

    “The UUP is as much a part of the mandatory coalition as the DUP and jumped in to such arrangements for a lot less than the DUP.”

    ..er, perhaps you’d care to quantify the difference for us unbelievers, fair deal. Oh yeah the decommissioning which we never saw but was verified by the untrustworthy Alderdice group which suddenly became utterly dependable-oh, just after Paisley got the top job by sheer coincidence.
    Then we had that supposed nend to criminality which was unacceptable when the IRA leadership didn’t sanction the Northern Bank robbery, but was fine when it didnt sanction the murder of Paul Quinn.Trust wee Jeffrey to come up with the semantic mots justes- “Corporate responsibility”. If only Trimble could have come up with a turn of phrase like that all would have been well!
    And those unaccountable cross border bodies which continued to meet when the executive was suspended, were replaced by the entirely acceptable cross border bodies which ..er .. continued to meet while the executive was frozen for months by a Shinner blockage.
    Yup I’m sure we all feel so much better now that we have professional DUPers micro-managing joint authority instead of those bumbling amateurs of Cunningham House.

    Thanks boys- death by a hundred cuts will be sooo much more palatable than death by a thousand

  • eranu

    good explanation mike. i was certainly thinking of the FPTP thing. but what is the actual point in bringing a tribal ‘designation’ into consideration at the FM selection stage? surely the most popular party deserves to lead? in day to day decision making there is probably still a need to have the consent of both tribes incase one tribe trys to do something crazy and offensive to the other tribe. but my feeling of fairness tells me that after an election the biggest party should take the FM position.

    I suppose logically then the dFM should be from the 2nd biggest party. maybe thats a step too far at the minute? What if they’re both from the same tribe?… all this getting the most votes to get positions in government might be a slippery slope leading to some kind of elected government and official opposition, nightmare!!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Comrade Stalin, I hoped you might be able to defend your assertion that the UUP was ‘one of the chief architects’. It’s my understanding that were able to raise objections to the draft plans and have some details altered but that doesn’t by any stretch of the imagination make them a chief architect. Of course, it is possible that the limited UUP influence on changes was streets ahead of that provided by the Alliance Party.

    Nevin, this is stupid nitpicking which doesn’t change the essence of my point. There were, strictly speaking, no “chief architects” in the sense that you are describing, although your snide remark about Alliance is probably closer to the truth than you imagined given that the GFA was closer to the Alliance Party’s position than that of any of the other parties in the run up to the talks.