Justice Minister must be inside the Executive and allocated by D’Hondt

We all want to see an urgent and satisfactory resolution to the deadlock over the devolution policing and justice. Some of the rumours emanating from the talks, however, are worrying.

I blogged earlier in the week about how Sinn Fein seemed happy to negotiate away a nationalist seat and the executive table. Today there are rumours that the new minister may not even be a member of the executive. This is a recipe for disaster. It hands an effective veto to the extremes. It weakens the common ground and will lead to future crisis.

Sinn Fein and the DUP should get back to the basic principles of power sharing and rerun D’Hondt to reallocate all eleven departments. This will ensure all executive departments are allocated in accordance with the mandates of those entitled to hold them and guarantee both communities are properly represented around the executive table.

Anything less will set a dangerous precedent and do nothing to build long term confidence in our institutions of government.

  • Gav_Belfast

    What we don’t want is a dirty deal reached in order to either hide or detract from on-going scandals or other skeletons-in-cupboards.

    Nor will a puppet (Aliance) justice “Minister” with strings being pulled instill confidence.

    The SDLP and UUP/UCUNF owe it to the country not to provide cover for any shabby deal and only back one that is right.

  • “It hands an effective veto to the extremes”

    I didn’t hear the SDLP or any of the other YES parties complain when the 50%+1 thingy was inserted in the 1998 Agreement so it’s a bit late for the SDLP to start whinging now when someone else gets a sweetie.

    As for 11 departments. Sheesh!!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Conall, I do not believe that Alliance will accept being a minister without being a full member of the Executive. My recollection is that the party ruled this out in public some time ago.

    Under the rules that the SDLP and UUP devised for themselves in 1998, their opinions simply don’t count until they are the largest parties in their respective camps.

    By the way, whining about this matter constantly achieves nothing except reminding the electorate of your failure to negotiate something better.

  • Conall,

    a review of the repsonses in your earlier blog and your failure to respond to the arguements raised illustrates nicely both the lack of traction this issue has with the public, Unionist and or Nationalist and how weak your arguements are.

    D’Hondt is a mechanism designed to allow for power sharing and to suggest that is should be elevated to the status of a rigid principle that will prevent power sharing going ahead (because of the sensitivity of the Justice post) is simply silly.

    Many people, including myself, would like to see the SDLP, given their stance against all paramilitary violence take on SF electorally, but championing causes such as the above is much more likley to hinder rather than aid that.

  • Oh my baby darling

    Conall

    where is your mandate from the people of South Belfast?

  • Mick Fealty

    ModU,

    I’m afraid shutting up and going to the back of the queue has not served the SDLP well in the past.

    Conall has put his finger on the problem. It is a pragmatic fix that suits the two lead parties but knocks the whole settlement out of shape.

    If we were to uncritically accept your view that people should shut up for the sake of the process, we might also be entitled to ask, why is there an assembly anyway?

    Or further, why do we not adopt the bipartisan US system: ie, two parties who face a general election to fill a wholly figurative electoral college with Stormont Castle as the White House only without a Congress as the legislative watchdog?

    Oh, yeah, the US has a Constitution that cannot be fiddled directly with by said politicians, and we don’t. That might just account for said instability.

    In short, this is not about P&J which is little more than a fetish issue between the DUP and SF, it is about whether the institutions have integrity in the eyes of the electorate.

  • Mick Fealty

    OMBD,

    Your mandate to comment here depends on your playing the ball, not the man. I don’t see it in that comment.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick,

    the “whole settlement” that we are talking about is one where power was allocated, disproportionately and along sectarian lines, to the two largest parties. That suited the SDLP and UUP just fine when they were on top. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, they are crying about it.

    The daft part that the SDLP won’t address is the point about whether or not, in the case where a new department is created, the d’Hondt system should be run from the top again and all the ministries reallocated. If that were to occur then SF or the DUP would simply take the ministry that way.

    Conall and the SDLP are asking the right question, but then following up by providing the wrong answer. They should devote their energies to admitting that they were wrong about d’Hondt and working with the rest of us to replace it with a fairer and more stable system.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    What goes round comes round. Its effectively the same rules that were designed to tame the extremes. DUP and SF in control wasnt in the original script.
    Personally Id prefer if Justice went to Alex Attwood. He seems more deserving. And he would be an SDLP heavyweight. One of the saddest features of the past few years has been the promotion of a SDLP “2nd XI” who just are not up to the job. Alban Magennis……maybe will be compensated for by a deserved Judiciary job.
    Since 1998, the Voters have not thought AP was deserving of an Executive seat/salary. While this is obviously to the chagrin of the great and the good in Norn Iron who choose to look down their noses at the two main parties (and the Will of the Voters), it has not been edifying to see the extent to which AP will go to get a seat/salary.
    The great Alderdice/Close controversy for example or the cynical redesignation of individuals as “unionist” for tactical reasons.
    Thats how it all works……CREATIVE AMBIGUITY. Whatever the Intentions, it is a bad road to go round. The way that AP has suddenly become relevant with Forde taking his place on Hearts and Minds like a real politician is but the next step.
    Essentially the process is two readings of one document which is either the sepping stone to a united Ireland or a barrier to a united Ireland. As part of their analysis SF are impatient to get to Plan B…and Plan C etc. Likewise the DUP.
    Meanwhile the idea can be floated at QUB Conferences of the great and good (the people who believe they are the real movers and shakers….that Norn Irons “third community” the migrants etc can bolster a third force that will be able to delay demographic change. “Social Engineering”?
    So no surprise that Forde and AP distance themselves from unionism as the latest tactic to get a seat on the Executive. They are…or maybe its just Forde….”agnostic” on the Union

  • Mick Fealty

    In the round, that is where this crisis may take us. But it makes sense to lay out clearly the implication of the current talks at Stormont Castle.

    Neither the procedure, nor even the outcome is the problem, it is the lack of openness and accountability of the whole thing.

    In theory D’Hondt is as good a mechanism as any, but the fact that only a dozen people in NI actually understand surely adds to the problem of transparency and accountability.

    Particularly when there is such a drastic loss of confidence in the people who hold the only powerful positions in the system. That leaves us with no credible form of self regulation.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FitzjamesHorse, Alliance have been distancing themselves from unionism since as long as I’ve been a member, which is about 15 years now. The idea that Alliance are unionists is a concept purely within some people’s heads, especially the people who can’t handle the idea that it’s possible that someone who isn’t a nationalist can be something other than a unionist.

  • “That leaves us with no credible form of self regulation.”

    The Committees could at least do the job they’re paid to do rather than leave it to outsiders to point out what is sitting under their snouts (OOPS) noses.

  • Comrade Stalin, does Alliance have anyone in mind with the ability to do the job? I know the current Ministers aren’t shining stars but Justice is a fairly crucial portfolio.

  • PACE Parent

    Never thought that Mick and Jim Allister would be in agreement over the fundamentals. The ending of the current structure is the political reality that everyone seeks to avoid.
    The Northern Ireland voting and non-voting community have no confidence in their current political representation because the entire system is flawed and incapable of change. It only benefits the actual and perceived insiders.
    No opposition and no prospect of removing the parties in power are obvious weaknesses. Promises to deliver jam tomorrow on the back of P&J sounds inherently weak against a background of scandal and corruption.
    While there is no appetite for a return to old ways the move that everyone knows is required is that Stormont must be broken down and a form of government that includes an opposition put in place. Unfortunately the insiders will not articulate such a move as it puts their personal and financial security at risk.

  • Mick,

    “In short, this is not about P&J which is little more than a fetish issue between the DUP and SF”

    You cannot surely stand over this statement with thousands of people dead and injured as result of what many of us view as an unjust ‘war’ by the PIRA, the issue of police and justice being devolved to an assmebly where SF is joint major power broker is extremely difficult for many Unionists.

    Although disagreeing with Allister about the neeed to do the deal, he does reflect a very strong view with Unionism that it very difficult for Unionism to allow SF at least an indirect say in these very, very sensitive matters and Unionists will have to swallow hard to support a deal with violent Republicanism, not becuase it is a “fetish issue” but because it goes to the very heart of Unionist values relating to right and wrong and law and order.

    The SDLP is inviting ridicule upon itself by trying to undo a carefully put together deal betwen SF and the DUP which has taken months to edge to a conclusion and like the UUP needs to see the bigger picture and not just concern itself with narrow political point scoring which is just as likley to backfire.

  • hairlacker

    Please excuse my ignorance, but could someone please be good enough to explain to me what the implications re if policing and justice is transfered?

  • tacapall

    Unionists will have to swallow hard to support a deal with violent Republicanism, not becuase it is a “fetish issue” but because it goes to the very heart of Unionist values relating to right and wrong and law and order.

    Posted by Moderate Unionist on Jan 17, 2010 @ 02:07 PM

    Please explain how this could be a viable argument for the Unionist population. There has been many well known publicised and recorded cases where Senior Unionist politicians, in government now, have been closely linked with loyalist paramilitaries and have turned a blind eye to their activities. Nationalists’ are not blind to this it seems to be a case of “Do as I say dont do as I do”

  • How about simply saying that any party that declares itself as either unionist or nationalist is too bigoted to be allowed to govern, leaving Ministers to be appointed from those who are not going to burn in hell because they cannot love their enemies?

  • Peaches

    OMBD,

    I find it fascinating to read what you said. Conall has every right to point out the fact that Sinn Fein are happy to negotiate away a nationalist seat. He is simply putting forward the point that many nationalists, like myself, feel utter dissapointment for how Sinn Fein are handling the situation.

    Under the Good Friday Agreement power is distributed in accordance to each party’s mandate. Therefore, with the addition of an extra seat in the Executive you would think that the same rule would apply, that the party who deserves the seat would be the party which has mandate to it. But unfortunately not in this political situation.

    I feel the best way to describe this is,

    “No nationlist need apply.”

  • Peaches, surely that should be, “No Nationalist or Unionist need apply”. It’s a Stormont stand-off.

  • union mack

    Alliance have been distancing themselves from unionism since as long as I’ve been a member, which is about 15 years now.

    which has coincided with their progressive electoral decline. they have not the mandate to be in the executive, so the SDLP ought to be given the seat.

    on the other hand, SDLP whingeing has always been an unedifying thing. maybe if they got their fingers out and started trying to win back voters, they could be the power brokers. there is only so much of ‘the settlement was Hume’s vision’ and all that balls you can live off. quit whingeing, do something about it

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin,

    I’m not privy to the internal thinking of the party on that question, but I suspect the general consensus in the media relating to David Ford is probably based on what they’re hearing from their party sources. I do not believe the party has taken a formal internal decision on who the candidate for the post will be. I would expect this to be endorsed by Party Council.

    PACE parent:

    The Northern Ireland voting and non-voting community have no confidence in their current political representation because the entire system is flawed and incapable of change. It only benefits the actual and perceived insiders.

    It’s funny how in Northern Ireland, people always blame the system, instead of the people they elect to represent them. It’s as if people don’t understand that democracy means – that they must deal with the consequences of electing incompetent politicians.

    The hypocrisy in this country is as if people here want the ability to keep voting for the same crappy politicians, but want to stop them from having any actual power. The mentality that elections are a tribal headcount, and not a way of electing leaders and administrations to run our government, is so far ingrained it’s not true.

    The system that was created was put there by the politicians we elected, and is operated by the politicians we elected. How do we change that ? Simple – elect different politicians. If you vote for the incumbents, then you’ve lost your right to bitch about it.

    Peaches,

    I find it fascinating to read what you said. Conall has every right to point out the fact that Sinn Fein are happy to negotiate away a nationalist seat. He is simply putting forward the point that many nationalists, like myself, feel utter dissapointment for how Sinn Fein are handling the situation.

    No, you’re not getting it. Sinn Fein are happy to negotiate away not a nationalist seat but an SDLP seat, because their principal objective is to remain in the leadership of Northern Irish nationalism, and eliminating the SDLP makes that easier. The UUP are in much the same quandry vis a vis the DUP.

    The fact that you are still thinking in terms of nationalism and how it should work together versus unionism illustrates, to me at least, that you still haven’t gotten out of the sectarian tribal entitlement mentality that got you in this hole in the first place.

    union mack,

    Actually, Alliance was at it’s strongest when it stood up to Unionism during the period of the Anglo Irish Agreement.

    The fact that Alliance is even being considered for the role shows how broken the system is. But instead of correcting the underlying problem, people want to paper over the cracks.

  • CS, are Alliance and its ‘pre-conditions’ featuring in the current negotiations?

  • IJP

    It is clear to me that only the DUP and SF are really featuring in the current negotiations.

    I’m afraid the fact the SDLP’s biggest problem with that is the technicality about how the Minister is simply another example of self-interest above public interest. No one cares, frankly.

    The real issue is not how a Minister is appointed, nor who the Minister is, but rather what that Minister will do (and what resources will be available to enable him/her to do it).

    As Comrade rightly points out, d’Hondt is merely one mechanism of achieving power-sharing – there are many others, including a cross-community vote. The issue is that we could get a Minister in place with absolutely no agreed programme (and thus education-style breakdown), no agreed resources (and thus no means of carrying out a programme, even if it were agreed), and that that Minister could then be thrown out in 2012 with us all returned to yet more “negotiations” (while the other Departments lose focus). Is there any chance of anyone addressing some of these points?!

  • The Raven

    “I blogged earlier in the week about how Sinn Fein seemed happy to negotiate away a nationalist seat {SNIP} weakens the common ground and will lead to future crisis.”

    How? How, when the entire bunch of them seem quite able to develop crises of their own, with very little help from any one else? How will this department and position be anything other than the very epitome of stasis – like every other department in this shambles government?

    I don’t even know who is imminently qualified to take this job. Someone with a legal background perhaps – and by that I mean, a practicing lawyer/barrister/whatever. Not some plastic politician who got a law degree 20 years ago and then “went into politics”.

    Hairlacker, in answer to your question at point 20, none. There are no implications. The system doesn’t work now; it will work even less under some “ministry”. Has the full remit of this department even been worked out? Is there a terms of reference?

    Has no one learnt anything from the last couple of years, as governmental life rotates round a holding pattern of constipation, and while 45,000 people remain unemployed in this country, and almost 60% of 16-74 year olds, have no or low levels of qualifications.

    Perspective, methinks, is somewhat lacking in this outpost of empire.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Comrade Stalin.
    While I recognise that you have been a member of the AP for 15 years……a week is a long time in politics, 15 years is a blink of an eye.
    Those of us who were a few years older than 15 when the AP was actually formed, can remember that they were once denounced as “castle catholics” and “uncle toms” as a means of getting a seat in a Stormont Cabinet.
    Now they are “agnostic”.
    When you are as old and cynical as I am, the Alliance Party will be singing “The Boys of the Old Brigade” if theres a cabinet seat going.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin,

    CS, are Alliance and its ‘pre-conditions’ featuring in the current negotiations?

    I do not know, and I suspect only a limited number of people in the party – as with all the parties involved in the current negotiations – are aware of the details.

    My guess is “no”, but we’ll have to see what comes out in the coming week.

    Fitzjameshorse, it sounds like you’re old enough to have lost a few of your marbles along the way. Why should I care what other people “denounced” the party as in the past, or the present ? One individual party member described himself as “agnostic” on the union. Other party members are not. I appreciate that the concept of one party containing diverse opinion on the constitutional question is probably difficult for you to wrap your aged and and increasingly feeble mind around, but Alliance quite proudly includes people from all sections of opinion and background in NI politics.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t even know who is imminently qualified to take this job. Someone with a legal background perhaps – and by that I mean, a practicing lawyer/barrister/whatever.

    Agh, not this bollix again. Robert McCartney QC for justice minister ? Jim Allister perhaps ?

    Should the health minster be a doctor ? Should the education minister be a teacher (recalling Gillian Shephard – ugh!) ? Should the DSD minister be someone who claims the dole ?

    I’d personally have no objection to Alban Maginness as justice minister. He’s an effective politician with a lot of the right ideas (although some wrong ones IMHO as well – but you can’t have everything). That’s nothing to do with his background in law. If anything, it’s in spite of it. If you’re part of the system you’re not necessarily best placed to see the faults in it, especially not when you’re talking about the old boys money club that is the NI legal profession.

  • The Raven

    CS, I see your point, and should have made it myself – but I can’t help but think that given the supposedly sensitive nature of this department/post, it probably wouldn’t be well suited to a draper or an estate agent from East Belfast, or a farmer from Co Down.

    Still. Better I suppose, anyone from the new boys money club of Stormont, than the old one.

  • Driftwood

    Another gold carriage added to the gravy train. The £800 million will come from the mainland taxpayer pot at the end of the rainbow.
    With that pot looking increasingly fragile, do the main players not realise that this department will become another burden, in the next few years.

    Ah well, how’s the ESA coming on? And the RPA? It was 11 councils at the last count, or was it 15?

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Comrade Stalin…Id be surprised if “your aged and and increasingly feeble mind around” is a comment that does not contravene the “playing the man, playing the ball” rule.
    I suppose losing my marbles is worse than the AP losing is principles.

  • Driftwood, there was talk back in September last of plans being made to shut Stormont down and to hold elections to the current 26 councils this year, presumably at the time of the General Election.

  • Driftwood

    Who would notice if they did Nevin? apart from the vested interests – turkeys and Xmas.
    Give the money saved to a proper charity.

    CS mentions DSD being run someone who had been on the dole. Why? DSD has no power to alter benefit levels or DLA or any other handouts. Like everything important that power lies with Westminster. Which thankfully soon will give us a proper government.

  • The Raven

    Driftwood, I work with a few councils. They are all well down the road to getting ready for RPA. Any tinkering now as part of a deal, as Mick pondered in an earlier tweet, would just be an unholy mess. Turkeys/Xmas maybe, but orders to get ready were given some time ago; and I don’t think even the council workers would be too happy at the current arrangements remaining in place for much longer.

    That said, there is legislation to be put in place to allow the process to kick off, by the end of January I believe. That’s before the boundaries are finally agreed, including all the work needed on wards WITHIN boundaries.

    Again because of the fools on the hill, another opportunity for change may go to waste. Folks, just stop voting for them.

  • Driftwood

    The Raven
    same with ESA, which has missed so many ‘no fail’ dates i’ve lost count. local government is well established. But we now have so many levels of government and quangos that it is stifling. Stormont actually gets in the way of getting things done.
    We are operating on a level of Soviet bureaucracy.
    And the layers keep piling on.

  • “We all want to see an urgent and satisfactory resolution to the deadlock over the devolution policing and justice.”

    Wishful thinking.

    Delivering this may be a nationalist/republican item, it is not one that unionism supports.

  • Jean Grey

    The Raven – I sympathise with you voting advice, but I’d love to hear the responsible alternatives.

    So the NI big five are failing us (yes there’s an argument that the system is failed but I’m going along the lines that a bad workman blames his tools and focusing on the workmen – and not wanting to get into a chicken/egg debate)… so we don’t vote for them – who do we vote for?

    The thread here has approached a pretty grim stage:

    P&J as a current issue is dominating the political sphere & has even threatened the future of the Peace Process yet there is general agreement that it has no real implications on the ground.

    There seems to be general feeling is that policy decisions (in this case P&J) are being defined along Unionist / Nationalist lines rather than informed debate regarding the befits to the electorate.

    There is insinuation that a large portion of voters are choosing ineffective politicians, for a variety of essentially sectarian reasons, rather than considering policy goals.

    But what are the alternatives. What parties even pretend to communicate their policy goals (beyond ultimate ideals of nationhood)? If we are talking about changing the system and finding new representatives I’m afraid we have come to a crisis in supply and demand.

  • Raymonds Back

    Has the legislation been changed to allow for 11 Departments in the Assembly? the last I heard, only 10 were permitted, which would entail a merger of 2 existing departments to make room for Policing and justice.

  • IJP

    Raymonds Back

    Well said.

    I raised this with Conall the last time he started up on this line.

    It seems the SDLP believes in the sanctity of the what the Agreement says about departmental allocations but not in the sanctity of what it says about departmental numbers… a position which just happens to hand the SDLP another ministerial position it wouldn’t otherwise have…

  • Comrade Stalin

    Jean,

    So the NI big five are failing us (yes there’s an argument that the system is failed but I’m going along the lines that a bad workman blames his tools and focusing on the workmen – and not wanting to get into a chicken/egg debate)… so we don’t vote for them – who do we vote for?

    Jean, we probably have more political parties here per head of population than anywhere else you would care to name. There is a wide array of choice for anyone who did not want to endorse the sectarian carve up. Obviously I would like people to vote Alliance, but that aside, there are Labour, Conservative (well, up until the tie-up), Natural Law, Greens, various Independents, etc etc. Please don’t say you don’t have a choice because you do.

    Raymond, Ian,

    Right enough, the Agreement only allows (up to) 10 departments. The Northern Ireland Act 1998 seems to allow the Secretary of State to make an order to create more, though, so no legislative change would be required here (and if it was, I would have expected that it would have been covered by the recent justice legislation in Westminster).

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Personally I see Alban Magennis as a future Chief Justice or head of the DPP or something like that.
    He seems to have disengaged from “hard politics” into a non controversial “arts and culture” figure.
    Frankly this disengagement has not helped the SDLP who need heavyweights.
    With McGrady staying on in South Down for no better reason than helping the over-promoted Margaret Richie to get the leadership…its a pity that Magennis or Attwood could not be persuaded to run in South Down. Yes they are not local but the seat WOULD be winnable.
    It may not be in five years time.
    Lucky for them that Caitriona Ruane is a disaster area.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Personally I see Alban Magennis as a future Chief Justice or head of the DPP or something like that.
    He seems to have disengaged from “hard politics” into a non controversial “arts and culture” figure.
    Frankly this disengagement has not helped the SDLP who need heavyweights.
    With McGrady staying on in South Down for no better reason than helping the over-promoted Margaret Richie to get the leadership…its a pity that Magennis or Attwood could not be persuaded to run in South Down. Yes they are not local but the seat WOULD be winnable.
    It may not be in five years time.
    Lucky for them that Caitriona Ruane is a disaster area.

  • The Raven

    David Vance writes: “Delivering this may be a nationalist/republican item, it is not one that unionism supports.”

    Actually David, it’s probably one that around 90% of the population don’t care about, regardless of background. I’ll be glib and say it is of concern to a few hundred people who have made it “an item”. Oh, and those “community representatives” who get paid to be on the DPPs.

    I refer again to my original point. Policing and justice, to the (wo)man on the street, is having a peeler turn up when you ring them; to getting their stolen car retrieved; to getting a result when your house is burgled. That is as far as “community confidence” extends. And as far as I can see, it is a point of resources that such confidence is not there – not down to what those few souls I mentioned earlier would like to think it is.

    Jean. Comrade Stalin has beaten me to it. The choice is there. Even if only to slap it up those Big Five for one election. When I say don’t vote for them, that’s what I mean.

    Unless there is an absolute sea-change in how these parties, and their representatives conduct themselves (and that’s not an Iris/Gerry allusion) my vote’s going to the Greens. Laughable, yes. At least that way, I will rid myself of all guilt when the usual sectarian carve up occurs.

  • PACE Parent

    All the talk about the personalities of the various political groupings and P&J is a distraction away from the core point which is that the Stormont mandatory coalition style of government cannot work. The process forces the voters either to become disengaged and disenfranchised or give support, albeit unwilling, to groups of politicians in parties that are incapable of differentiating between themselves. There are two main designation groups in Northern Ireland; the unionists and the nationalists. Not all issues fall neatly into these camps. Health, education, transport, agriculture etc. Alliance and the Green party cannot ride two horses on this, hence the antipathy towards Ford and his ilk who flit from one camp to another simply to appear different, detached and attempt impossible differentiation while spouting integration . Everything else of concern to the (wo)man in the street stems from this fundamental choice on designation. The desire of most people to make progress on “bread and butter” issues is hampered and hidebound by this core schism. Could an anti-academic selection party such as the SDLP otherwise explain how so many of their voters disagree in practice with their policy position? That education choice issues and anti-selection positions were described as ” a unionist issue” by the nationalist media shows that education outcomes are not at the core of their concerns. The potential to loose votes had to be avoided. Dominic Bradley went to secondary and grammar schools how come that is not good enough a choice for SDLP voters now? Could the DUP explain their extraordinary claim that Parading is important to unionists when many unionists (perhaps a majority) are not members of the Orange Orders and have no particular interest in the issue?
    A Stormont with a one party or voluntary coalition government held to account via an opposition is the only way that voters will be assured of an opportunity to hold to account those they elect. The personalities and parties are irrelevant, the process and accountability is everything.

  • Comrade Stalin

    PACE parent, my only response here is that old cliche, “what is your alternative ?”. At the moment, the only alternative that the soft anti-devolutionists (people who are not bigots but think “this is all bollocks, get rid of the whole thing”) think will work is direct rule. Direct rule has all the problems that you just described, except it conveniently allows our elected politicians to blame someone else when stuff does not work out. I think it’s a tremendous cop out, both for our politicians who essentially get paid to do nothing, and for the electorate here who get to elect politicians along tribal lines without having to feel the direct effects of their poor performance.

    Frankly, I’m not convinced that restoring the selection system is something that would immediately happen under direct rule. I suspect that the Secretary of State would likely hold some kind of formal public enquiry (which is what Sinn Fein should have done) to gather ideas and then come up with a proposal.

    If anyone is really so wound up about keeping selection in place, there is a very obvious choice, which is “vote for the DUP”. Imagine if people began doing that. The dynamics of politics here would begin to change very quickly. Why is this option so completely unthinkable ? I’m convinced that if we say to people “powersharing is the only game in town, it is your responsibility to elect the politicians you want” this might start happening. If we take powersharing away, people will regress back into their usual tribal voting patterns. The Raven is right up above. Dare to be different – vote for someone else to “slap it up” to the established parties. It’s the only message they understand.

    You’re not wrong about the fundamental brokenness of our powersharing system. d’Hondt doesn’t work well, and the designation system merely encourages squabbling at the extremes. However, simple majority rule is not going to come back.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m thinking that Catriona Ruane has done more harm to the concept of powersharing than any other politician in NI, inside or outside the executive 🙁

  • The Raven

    Comrade! Come to my arms! :-*

  • Comrade Stalin

    I can’t do that, there’s a ceasefire on.

  • The Raven

    *chortle*