Are talks destined for discriminatory outcome?

Talkback is debating the ‘talks’. If the texters, twitterers and callers are anything to go by, the vast majority of people here want the devolution process completed.

The DUP and Sinn Fein appear on course to produce a discriminatory outcome. Instead of rerunning D’Hondt, both parties appear determined to award the 11th executive seat to a party with no mandate to hold it. This is a dangerous precedent and will do nothing to strengthen community confidence in power – sharing or the executive.

It will leave nationalist voters and there representatives underrepresented and discriminated against on the alter of political expediency.

  • Drumlins Rock

    you looking the job Conall?

  • Oh my baby darling


    where is your mandate?

    Do you want the ministery, should it be created?

  • Kensei

    Politics is the art of the possible. Get what you can, fix it later.

  • Garza

    I disagree. I am happy for Alliance to hold it the next coming years until everyone calms the hell down and both communities start to realise that the other is not going to screw them over.
    Let the trust build.

  • Conall,

    the SDLP are talking out of both sides of their mouth at the same time. Firstly they said that the DUP were now more humble, which might be fairly be decribed as a bit of crowing, they then said that no one should say anything to make reaching a deal any more difficult, they then criticised Alliance (on Hearts and Minds) for simply being after the Justice job and going back on their previous position of opposition and they are now sounding off about Ashdown’s parades solution. Perhaps it is lucky that very few pay any attention to them?

    What was very poor about last nights Hearts and Minds was that the assembled politicians were not asked about their party’s position on the parades issue.

  • Mr. J.

    Kensei put it very succinctly.

    As it is seen as a somewhat contentious portfolio, it makes sense that the Alliance should hold it, as it may be percieved currently as a post susceptible to political bias, same as how the Speaker was selected from the Alliance in the first Assembly.

    Let things calm down first and d’Hondt can be applied at a later date.

    It might not be ideal to some, but if it is a price to pay for devolved P&J, so be it.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Conal got a compromise, saying the new post is a proxy for SF & DUP they should give up a seat each, just scrap them! well at least their wee juinors, jeff and gerry could well be done without anyways.

  • Conall,

    one other thing..

    please try ancd remember D’Hondt is a mechanism dreamed up, many would suggest, to allow SF a say in government which they would not have had otherwise and Unionists have been invited to sign up to this arrangement or find ourselves being at least partly run by a foreign government. If this mechanism has to be tweaked or amended or suspended in order to faciltiate a deal then most people in Northern Ireland, Unionist or Nationalist, with and understanding of the sensitiviy of the Justice post will go along with it.

    Trying to elevate D’Hondt into an unadjustable principle that would actually prevent agreement being reached not only shows a fundamental misunderstanding of why it was required in the first place but also smacks, somewhat desperately, of political opportunism from a party that still has not adjusted to life behind SF at the polls.

    There are many reasons why people should vote for the SDLP and not SF and the SDLP would be better served on concentrating on some of those rather than trying to block or complain about the adjustment in the existing political setup required to make progress.

  • Harry J

    the vast majority of people here want the devolution process completed……….

    the vast majority of people are out at work with no time to listen to the radio
    the only people who contact this show are the same names day in day out

  • Duth ealla

    An alliance versus an SDLP minister?

    If this is an issue for antionalist voters they will punish SF at the next poll and the SDLP will win many famous victories.

    If its not an issue for nationalist voters then the vote will reflect that.

    Its going to be put to the test.

  • J Kelly

    Conall this type of whinging is what has destroyed the sdlp since Durkan and co pushed Hume and Mallon out.

  • Bangordub

    You are right, technically.
    The subtext of course is that, that would mean an SDLP minister and a “dead heat” between Unionists and Nationalists in terms of ministers.
    Unionism is unprepared for this because of a leadership defecit over many years.
    The problem the SDLP have is surely that nobody’s listening? Incidentally, do you think the new leader will have an impact on this lack of strategic vision or indeed a coherent plan for communicating with the media and wider electorate in a way that engages and energises the party’s existing and potential voters?

  • ‘It will leave nationalist voters and there (sic) representatives underrepresented and discriminated against on the alter of political expediency’

    How? Are you saying Alliance are not capable of representing nationalist voters?

    Having played Devil’s advocate, I do actually agree that the post should be allocated through d’Hondt, for a different reason i.e. there are other ministries that could be regarded as sensitive if the Assembly started going down that route. However, surely in that case all the portfolios shoudl be re-allocated and the SDLP might not necessarily get P&J.

  • Oh my baby darling


    I repeat, where is your mandate? You complain of Alliance laming the mandate to hold the P&J ministry: yet where is your mandate from the people of south Belfast?

  • Oh my baby darling

    ** lacking the mandate…

  • Drumlins Rock

    dead heat? Up to now 5 nationalists and 7 unionists sit round the table (Im not including Geoffrey and Gerry they can stand in the corner to top up the coffee and serve biscuits) ok Peter has nipped out for a bit but that wont be the case when the new seat is added, so if nationalist would be 6 v 7. BTW this does however raise the biggest risk of the TUV arriving at Stormont, they might not get enough for a seat at the table, but could well cost unionist one under D’Hont.

  • Bangordub

    You are correct, sorry, my mistake

  • Perhaps they should appoint a justice commissioner instead of a minister. An independent non-party political person from outside the Assembly chosen by FM+dFM (or better still cross community vote) to exercise the policing and justice powers.

  • Drumlins Rock

    PLEASE NO!!!! Gerry Kelly can have the job! just dont give us another one of those self righteous commissioners!

  • who are you talking about in the blog post?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Conall, can I just add I was hoping as a young man coming onto the SDLP team you would have been forward thinking and wanting to move the country on from the old sectarian fighting, but all you have done is cry “DISCRIMINATION DISCRIMINATION!!!” just because yous feel snubbed, no-one is buying this line, not even most of your own partys members i suspect, if the SDLP is goning to get anywhere then you have to move on.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    The SDLP will huff and puff but not blow the house down. Alliance has said that inclusion and proportionality are at the heart of the Executive, not D’Hondt, which is a mere mechanism, of which there are a few others. (Saint Lague springs to mind.)

    Unionists have argued that the justice position is so important, it must have cross-community support. That may be a fig leaf to cover their bigotry, but it’s still a fair point in its own right. (On the flip side, would nationalists really have confidence in a DUP justice minister?)

    The Shinners have said there is no provision to run D’Hondt for 11 departments, though Durkan has countered that this could happen if the Secretary of State gave his consent. Obviously the SoS won’t, if the DUP and SF have a plan. But if he did, would D’Hondt not be re-run for all 11 departments from the beginning anyway, according to the NI Act 1998? In which case, the SDLP would be highly unlikely to secure the post using D’Hondt.

    Regardless of all this, no-one has been appointed to the position yet. The SDLP is the only party to have put a name forward, so presumably if the party really deserves the justice position it will get it.

    I doubt if anyone outside the SDLP actually cares if the appointment is unfair to the SDLP or not. The devolution of justice hasn’t seen people rallying in the streets, and the SDLP complaint is a small part of a debate that hasn’t registered hugely in the public consciousness. My guess is that the average punter wants justice devolved as fairly as possible, but cares little for the detail.

    Sorry, but whinging isn’t going to win the SDLP any votes. In some ways, I hope the SDLP keep plugging away, as they will be defeated again. In another, I hope that some day in the not-too-distant future, there WILL be an SDLP justice minister, as it will mean that we’ve entered an era where unionists have disgarded another layer of bigotry.

  • union mack

    The subtext of course is that, that would mean an SDLP minister and a “dead heat” between Unionists and Nationalists in terms of ministers.
    Unionism is unprepared for this because of a leadership defecit over many years.

    it was a dead heat in the first assembly