“Ulster Unionists and the SDLP were unhappy with parts of the legislation”

The BBC won’t allow me to post the video of the on-camera row between the UUP’s Basil McCrea and the Alliance Party’s Stephen Farry after the latter accused the former of having the “same agenda” as “dissident republicans” – there may be something in Hansard later. And, having apparently signed up to the DUP/Sinn Fein agenda on the devolution of policing and justice powers [and got been promised the ministry], the Alliance Party voted with those two parties on the second reading of the proposed Department of Justice Bill today. Both the UUP and the SDLP voted against. The Bill was passed anyway. But what was that about community confidence? And what was that about “the other parties have to display equal confidence”. Perhaps Ian Junior said it? Update During the debate the reference by the Alliance Party’s Stephen Farry was to a “common cause” and “a common objective” – “which is to frustrate the devolution of policing and justice.”

, , , ,

  • andrew white

    so just to be clear, the Tories are for the devolution of th P+J, the UUP are against or are they for the devolution but against the financing of it?

    and if the tories say its for local parties to decide then what is the view of the local tory party??

  • frustrated democrat

    AW

    For your information there is only one Conservative Party. There is no NI Conservative Party, locally it operates as an area of the Conservative Party and the Constituency Associations here are the same as any other Associations in the UK.

    From their public statements, it seems that both the Conservatives and Unionists are in favour of the devolution of P&J when conditions are right. However since the Conservatives are not represented at Stormont, at this time, they understandably believe it is up to the parties who are elected to Stormont to reach an agreed decision on a devolved matter.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    FD,

    If the UUP continue on their anti-agreement path they will not only incur the wrath of the Alliance party but also that of the Tory party who didnt spend years putting the peace/political process together for the sectarain rump that the UUP now behave like to start trying to wreck it.

  • andrew white

    From their public statements, it seems that both the Conservatives and Unionists are in favour of the devolution of P&J when conditions are right.

    so what are the conditions for both parties? clearly they are split with the UUP not wanting to devolve it for 5 yeasr, well McNarry anyway. What is regs position this week?

  • aquifer

    ‘Ian Junior said it’

    And no-one dared challenge the then son of the Clan/ Cult chief? Looks like the DUP are paying the price of their antipolitics, but in arrears.

    SF were perfectly entitled to take IPJ’s unchallenged input as DUP assent to the transfer of P&J powers, given that the DUP had always declined to behave as a normal political party.

    The wobbly mirror image of SF.

    As Prince put it: ‘this town needs an enema’

  • boss hogg

    The UUP are a joke did they not agree to P&J during the Belfast Agreement, with out Sinn Fein support for Policing and with the IRA still armed.

  • fin

    From the debate

    “Although the Ulster Unionists may be only the tail of the cow, they will, nevertheless, be able to assure us that we will have all the money that we need.” [Dr W McCrea]

    “I distinctly heard the Member say that we were a cow. I think that Dr McCrea should withdraw those remarks.” [Mr B McCrea]

    I feel sorry for Basil; he is so sensitive today. I never referred to any Member as an animal, I mentioned a party [Dr W McCrea]

    I think that it is the protocol in this place not to refer to Members by their Christian names.[Mr B McCrea]

    That is rich. I am led to believe that one of Mr McCrea’s colleagues Alan McFarland used someone’s Christian name earlier. Pardon me, is that “Colonel” McFarland? How am I supposed to refer to Mr McFarland? This really shows that the Ulster Unionist Party is on the run on this issue [Dr W McCrea]

    From following slugger I have long believed that unionists have access to a continous supply of high quality drugs not available to nationalists, I am now convinced,

  • fin

    We have a job of work to do. We must instil confidence within the community. People tell me what “the people” want. Where do they think I live?
    [Dr W McCrea]

    On Mars. [Mrs D Kelly]

    Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. After that 34-minute speech, we can only be glad that the previous Member to speak did not sing.[Mr O’Dowd]

  • Comrade Stalin

    I feel a bit sorry for the SDLP as they have internal problems of their own, but the UUP are so incoherent these days that it is very difficult to tie them down on anything. It appears that they are happy enough to align themselves with rejectionist unionism and the TUV. I hope that they consider very carefully the long term implications of what they are doing.

    fin,

    Basil “calculator” McCrea is always coming out with classics like this. Earlier in the year he made a mildly controversial comment during a budget debate. Another member stood up and challenged him on it. He then categorically denied having said it, even though it was recorded right there in Hansard.

    This man is a buffoon.

  • fin

    CS, I had no idea the assembly could be such a riot, I may become a regular reader of Hansard.

    CS, we’ve crossed swords on the Justice Ministry before, lets do it again! I didn’t read the SDLP comments, but a SF comment later was that they’d support a SDLP nomination, if they got cross community support. You know the system better than I, if the UUP supported the SDLP for Justice along with SF would they get the role or would it descend into arguement.

    The reason I ask is the UUP could adopt the SDLP arguement re d’Hondt and use it to further embarass the DUP over P&J. What are your thoughts on that scenario

  • Mike

    Sammy McNally

    “If the UUP continue on their anti-agreement path they will not only incur the wrath of the Alliance party”

    Thanks for brightening my morning, I found the phrase “the wrath of the Alliance party” unaccountably amusing.

  • jack

    Basil is without doubt the biggest plonker in the UUP. He said during the debate that he and his party would support the SDLP for the post of Justice Minister, even after wee Reg said that the UUP wouldnt support David Ford as he wasnt a unionist!! Crazy stuff. Add that to the fact that Major McFarland wants it appointed under d’Hondt (thus allowing SF the post), and the fact that Empey had signed up to P and J by 2005, the UUP are totally discredited on the entire issue.

  • andrew white

    so this gets even more confusing, McNarry says no devolution for 5 years then reg says no devolve now just keep the money at westminister.

    Then reg says, only someone “pro-union” ie no taig, can hold the post

    now mcfarlane says the SDLp is welcome to the post , in fact he says ANY party (including sinn fein) could take the post “If we are to have this extra important Department, we should run d’Hondt again so that every party would have a choice.”

    Is reg out of the country yet? looks like it

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mike,

    yes admittedly, there is more than a hint of being “savaged by a dead sheep” – about that remark.

    The substantive story here is further progress on the transfer and continued grounds for optimism – with the SDLP and the UUP jabbering about jack as a backdrop.

  • Comrade Stalin

    fin, I am by no means an expert on the assembly procedure, although I’m sad enough to flick through Hansard now and then.

    SF did not say they would support an SDLP nomination. They said their preference would be for an SDLP nomination, which is very different. They are essentially saying that they’d rather the SDLP got the seat but they are conceding that this is not possible.

    I think in reality, Sinn Fein, for strategic reasons, quite specifically do not want the SDLP to take the seat. If the SDLP minister managed to use the seat well, in the same way that Margaret Ritchie has, any success enjoyed would bolster help the SDLP at SF’s expense. For the same reasons, the DUP do not want the UUP taking the seat. Moreover, it suits both of those parties to have Alliance take it, as – as some might see it – this puts pressure on both the SDLP and UUP outwards from the centre ground.

    The double veto means that no deal is possible unless both SF and the DUP are agreed on it. That means that the scenario you envisage WRT the UUP and SDLP can’t arise. The UUP and SDLP are powerless even if they get together, as we saw in the Assembly yesterday. It’s ironic, because the system was designed to work exactly that way by those same two parties who never envisaged that they might one day be knocked from their respective leadership roles.

    The SDLP argument on d’Hondt is somewhat fanciful. It assumes that instead of re-running d’Hondt from the top and reallocating all the ministries that way, the seat should be allocated to whichever party happens to be the next in line. It is not really a consistent position to take; if you support the integrity of d’Hondt does that not mean it should be re-run from the top to ensure the seats are allocated in the way it is intended each time the executive’s makeup is changed ? And if it was re-run from the top, either Sinn Fein would take it, or the DUP would take it to prevent Sinn Fein taking it, first. It’s just the SDLP trying to put their finger on the scales.

    Even if things did get set up so that the SDLP did take the seat, all that SF/DUP would then need to do would be to have the First and Deputy First minister resign and then immediately nominate themselves for their positions again, thus forcing the d’Hondt to be re-run. Failing that, the SDLP would be immediately out of the seat again come the next election, and we would be in deadlock as neither a DUP nor an SF justice minister would be able to obtain consensus. Something more sustainable is required.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I have to admit that I also smiled at the “wrath of Alliance” thing.

    It’s the wrath of the DUP that the UUP need to watch out for, and by supporting an Alliance nomination the DUP are using Alliance to pressure the UUP from the soft unionist side of their support base.

  • loki

    CS,
    They didn’t have to re -run when Robbo took over as first minister, so the assumption of next in line for SDLP is fair enough methinks.
    UUP aren’t against devolution of P&J, they just think the muppets on the hill aren’t capable of running an orgy in a brothel, never mind a numebr of government departments in a devolved administration. I think they could have a point to be honest- having listened to Peter and Marty today.
    As FD said, ain’t no Conservatives in Assemlby yet, thus only fair to defer to UUP thinking.
    Incidentally, McNarry’s paper wasn’t against P&J, it raised very vital issues around funding and we can’t keep expecting the rest of UK to bail us out forever.

  • Comrade Stalin

    They didn’t have to re -run when Robbo took over as first minister, so the assumption of next in line for SDLP is fair enough methinks.

    I stand corrected, my mistake.

    But I still don’t think it’s appropriate to merely continue d’Hondt when the executive makeup changes and the number of seats either reduces or increases. I wonder what the precedent is in other places where d’Hondt exists. It’s a shame that this matter wasn’t considered during the original GFA talks.

    UUP aren’t against devolution of P&J, they just think the muppets on the hill aren’t capable of running an orgy in a brothel, never mind a numebr of government departments in a devolved administration.

    Your argument is basically that we shouldn’t have democratic institutions until the people learn how to elect the right politicians. I am sure that is not what you meant, but that is the logical conclusion.

    My view is that people get the government they deserve, and that they must ultimately hold their politicians accountable by putting them out of office at the next election. Not asking the British government to do it for them. We do not propose asking the Queen to abolish the Commons because Labour can’t manage the economy properly.

    Incidentally, McNarry’s paper wasn’t against P&J, it raised very vital issues around funding and we can’t keep expecting the rest of UK to bail us out forever.

    I don’t see how the funding issue is connected with the devolution of the powers in question. Any cuts are going to happen irrespective of whether or not the powers are actually devolved.

    I would argue that a local minister – providing he/she is competent – would be better able, and motivated, to identify efficiency savings. Policing here costs over three times as much per head of population as it does throughout the UK. I can’t accept that this is not fixable. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that policing has to take a hit.

  • andrew white

    As FD said, ain’t no Conservatives in Assemlby yet, thus only fair to defer to UUP thinking………

    so the conservatives have no views on any devolved (or to be devolved) matters then?

  • andrew white

    As FD said, ain’t no Conservatives in Assemlby yet, thus only fair to defer to UUP thinking………

    which changes depending if reg is in or out of the country

  • fin

    “SDLP Members may believe that it is disingenuous of Sinn Féin to support a nomination from the SDLP Benches. We would do so, but we cannot persuade Mr Robinson, the leader of the DUP — or, as has already been stated, the Ulster Unionists — to support it. If the SDLP requires cross-community support, which is, as Martina Anderson stated, enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement, it is up to it alone to see Mr Robinson and Reg Empey and persuade the two parties opposite to support it. For many years, the SDLP has told us that it receives support from all sections of the community. It is now time to use that influence and get support from the Benches opposite. Sinn Féin is on record as saying that, if the SDLP nominates, it will support that nomination.”

    CS, this is what O’Dowd said in the debate, all they need to do is get the DUP and UUP support and SF will support them (haha, piece of cake)

    Not sure I agree with your take on D’Hondt, but understand the validity of your case. But outside of D’Hondt do all parties need to agree the nomination?

    Also not sure I agree with your take on SF’s thought process, I think there concern is if the SDLP would develop a orange tinge in the role or a green one (is the sudden urge for a unity forum, and the attack on SF’s republican and united Ireland credentials a public hint)

  • Peter Fyfe

    CS

    You are saying you can not really leave it to D’Hondt as all ministers would need reselected, does anybody else get excited at the idea of Ruane losing education? Im sure their are a few in P6 who would not mind it. The question has be though, do SDLP voters not deserve another minister if they have the mandate to support this? WE are supposed to work within some form of a democracy, you can’t just say this party has no strong opinions either way so give it to them disregarding whether they get the votes or not.

  • Peter Fyfe

    O’Dowd is a smart man and a good politician, he knows when he can get away with them statements.

  • Comrade Stalin

    fin,

    CS, this is what O’Dowd said in the debate, all they need to do is get the DUP and UUP support and SF will support them (haha, piece of cake)

    By pinning the blame on the unionists it means that they do not have to take responsibility and they can make themselves look pious on the matter. Oldest ploy in the book.

    Not sure I agree with your take on D’Hondt, but understand the validity of your case. But outside of D’Hondt do all parties need to agree the nomination?

    Outside of d’Hondt I would imagine that the whole executive would be dissolved and be reconstituted. The new executive would be agreed between the parties and then ratified by a weighted majority vote in the assembly.

    Also not sure I agree with your take on SF’s thought process, I think there concern is if the SDLP would develop a orange tinge in the role or a green one (is the sudden urge for a unity forum, and the attack on SF’s republican and united Ireland credentials a public hint)

    That’s very conspiratorial. Why come up with a complex explanation when there is a simple one ? They are afraid of the minister being able to make the reforms that they expect can be made, and getting the credit for cleaning up serious crime and anti social behaviour in republican neighbourhoods. Look at the way they tried to thwart Margaret Ritchie over CTI.

    Peter:

    You are saying you can not really leave it to D’Hondt as all ministers would need reselected,

    SF and the DUP can do it whatever way they want. They can make it up as they go along.

    However I believe they are both agreed that they don’t want the SDLP, or the UUP, taking the seat, for the reasons outlined above.

    d’Hondt is designed so that the large parties get to take the seats that they prefer. That doesn’t happen if the process is continued.

    does anybody else get excited at the idea of Ruane losing education? Im sure their are a few in P6 who would not mind it.

    I remember doing the 11+ and I didn’t like it, I don’t remember anyone who did, so that remark is totally daft. However Ruane needs to be removed for the mess she’s made.

    The question has be though, do SDLP voters not deserve another minister if they have the mandate to support this?

    Arguably they do. But if d’Hondt was run from the top they wouldn’t get Justice.

    WE are supposed to work within some form of a democracy, you can’t just say this party has no strong opinions either way so give it to them disregarding whether they get the votes or not.

    Alliance is being considered for the position because they enjoy a degree of cross community consensus, but more importantly, because they are not a direct electoral threat to either the DUP or SF.

    The system where the two large parties divvy up the spoils was designed by the SDLP. The SDLP were warned of the consequences of this during the talks and chose to ignore it. Now they are paying the price for their greed.