“I am fully conscious that I am not the unanimous choice of this assembly…”

As the new Northern Ireland Justice Minister, the Alliance Party’s David Ford, says in this BBC report, he was “not the unanimous choice” of the NI Assembly. His appointment is unlikely to impact on those still-violent republican groups. And as Mark Devenport reminds us, he may only be a temporary choice for a temporary ministry.

The question will be whether the Stormont Executive can deliver the “joined-up approach” which has so far eluded it. The omens from the competing nominations for the Justice brief aren’t good.

Time is also tight. The cross community appointment of the minister is temporary, with a “sunset clause” which could see the new Department of Justice being dissolved in 2012 if a permanent solution cannot be found. Prior to that the May 2011 Assembly elections could lead to a wholesale review of the Stormont rules.