Well, who expected that? That was as neat a trick as I’ve seen in a while. It has to have been pretty well prepared in advance. Robinson out of the hot seat under provisions within the St Andrews Agreement as shown below the fold. Arlene Foster becomes acting First Minister (a former UUPer, who the conventional wisdom ran would never get on inside the DUP). And, as Gerry Kelly pointed out on Stormont live there is still the crisis over policing and justice. Only now, it doesn’t feel like a crisis for anyone else. Six weeks is all Robinson has to clear his name. In the meantime the press is digging and who knows what that will throw up. Foster says Robinson will fall for any viable bullet that due process may deliver. So it’s never over until the fat lady sings… But, I have to admit, I never expected this turn of events…(
11) The holder of the office of First Minister or deputy First Minister may by notice in writing to the Presiding Officer designate a Northern Ireland Minister to exercise the functions of that office
(a) during any absence or incapacity of the holder; or
(b) during any vacancy in that office arising otherwise than under section 16B(2),
but a person shall not have power to act by virtue of paragraph (a) for a continuous period exceeding six weeks.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty