“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.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It’s notable that despite all the promises by the UUP to cross the sectarian divide and vote for Alban Maginness, they resorted to type and put up their own candidate at the last minute. They just couldn’t be seen to be voting for a Catholic a few weeks away from a general election. Shameful.

  • Garza

    You know im starting to realise here on Slugger that the UUP is damned if is does and damned if it doesnt.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I hear this particular point repeated a lot :

    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

    This is really an academic point. The assembly can resolve to remove the justice minister at any time. It can vote continue the justice minister’s term of office past 2012 at any time.

    The relevant factor is the makeup of the assembly and the positions adopted by the parties within.

  • Garza

    Anyway CS why pick out UUP? The DUP wouldn’t vote for nationalist. The SDLP and SF wouldn’t vote for a unionist. You should be happy that they wouldn’t, if they could there would be no way Alliance would get anywhere near the job if they would.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Garza,

    It only seems that way, because the UUP can’t pick a position and stick to it.

    – it declared that it would run 18 candidates. Then it didn’t.
    – it declared it would vote for Alban Maginness as justice minister. Then it didn’t.
    – it declared that it wouldn’t run any double jobbing candidates. Then it put up Reg Empey.

  • alan56

    The difficulty that UUP has is that it that some people in the party are trying to face 2 ways at once. Politics suggests that this is not a clever strategy

  • Comrade Stalin

    Anyway CS why pick out UUP?

    Because the UUP said it would be supporting Alban. If they hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have been able to point out their U-turn. I can’t say the same about the DUP, as there was no u-turn there.

  • percy

    heaven eh peteb?
    sunset clauses, timetables, dissolutions, wholesale reviews.
    what a relief! you don’t disappoint 😉

  • D.A.

    In other news… what in the name of goodness was that SDLP PEB like tonight???? Cringe!!!!

  • slug

    The Assembly needs an opposition. Otherwise its a club. We need a funded opposition party opposing what is being done by the executive.

  • Garza

    [quote]Because the UUP said it would be supporting Alban. If they hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have been able to point out their U-turn.[/quote]

    Nah CS I’m quite sure on H&M Sir Reg said that they hadn’t made an executive decision yet, but AM was a possible choice.

    But I noticed you were not giving out plaudits when you thought they were going to vote for AM.

  • Comrade Stalin

    That, Garza, is what I call a first-class backpedal.

  • Michaelhenry

    there is no opposition, all partys are now at the executive table, all happy bunnies except in frount of the media slug.

  • Peter Fyfe

    CS

    Do you have no problem with AP for propping up this deal to keep a nationalist out of the post at the DUP’s wishes? Or would you rather just snipe at the UUP?

  • Los Lobos

    The green,pup and independent MLA’s now make up the opposition in Stormont. 3 out of 108 but hey folks that’s democracy for you. We elect these chumps every time, mainly because there isn’t anyone else to vote for. In many areas the big 4 are usually the only parties on the ballot. This is their strength (keeping the choice limited), after that it’s like counting sheep really. If real change is to come to NI then citizens need to be organising to oppose the now 5 parties of Government otherwise we are doomed to more of the same with the possibility of Mr Mc Guinness signing internment orders to quell the disquiet from his former comrades. After that it’s back to year Zero.

  • Michaelhenry

    any ideas los lobos, or are you just day dreaming.

  • slug

    Los Lobos

    I agree –

    Woudln’t you agree that the situation of no opposition actually creates a vacuum. A possibly dangerous one that could be filled by extreme elements on both sides.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Do you have no problem with AP for propping up this deal to keep a nationalist out of the post at the DUP’s wishes?

    I have no problem with Alliance acting to save devolution. If you have a problem with Alban Maginness being excluded from the justice role, take it up with Sinn Fein.

  • Peter Fyfe

    CS

    How coherent of an answer would MH give? I asked you because I put some value on your opinions. You seem pretty reasonable to me. For the UUP to support the SDLP today following their pact in FST would be pretty empty in my opinion. Add that to Paula Bradshaws recent thoughts on an agreed candidate in SB and it would have been downright laughable. I suspect thats why they didn’t support Alban, no point risking votes by supporting the Taig. I suppose DF did have to take it and I hope he keeps his promises on promoting a shared future. I’m scared he won’t really do much in regards to this as he may be toothless due to the circumstances of his appointment.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The situation with no opposition is completely dire. Let’s fix it by getting rid of d’Hondt. It’s not Alliance’s problem. Alliance completely opposed d’Hondt from it’s inception. Of course, the UUP and SDLP were busy defending d’Hondt today. Both were claiming that it would grant them the justice ministry seat. That shows that they aren’t serious about fixing this problem.

    It would have been my first choice to join with the UUP and SDLP in some kind of workable joint opposition. The UUP and SDLP weren’t interested, and chose instead to operate the system of government which they themselves designed to margainalize all of the parties outside of the two largest in the executive. This left Alliance with few alternatives. The idea that the party is supposed to simply sacrifice itself in order to provide some sort of official opposition is laughable.

    Alliance was in no position to mount any kind of effective opposition from where it sat in the assembly. I think the party put up a pretty good fight given the minimal resources it had in the assembly but really, to excuse the vulgarity, it was pissing in the wind. Through the justice ministry Alliance now has leverage.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Peter,

    David Ford is now in the position that he has to deliver on everything he said he would do. If that works out, everyone wins.

  • Los Lobos

    I’v always got ideas Michaelhenry and yes I like to daydream too. I think that apathy will be the big winner at the upcoming elections as many people just feel that what passes for “political activity” in NI is a metaphore for intellectual dishonesty and couldn’t be arsed politics. That will only change when it is challanged. I would think the entire system would have to come to a grinding halt (all hole in the wall’s shut) before most people in this country would feel the need to usurp our democratically elected leaders and replace them with something better.

    I would agree slug that a vacuum being created is a very real fear with another generation being contaminated with hate, however, i don’t dispair as it’s all I have ever known. The ceasefires may have been called in the 90’s but those using anti-democratic methods on both sides didn’t convert to democracy as their arms were being covered with concrete. Many fundamentalists, some of them in the Government of NI today, are strangers to the norms of a civilised society and carry on their campaign to pummel “the other”, abiet with an air of respectability and a mandate. The irony of it all is that the trouble exploded onto the streets post WW2 with the charge of NI being a one party state! The more things change the more they stay the same.

  • Cato

    Policing and justice has been transferred. If you get time between furiously spinning away from your previous position that it was unlikely to happen towards your new position that it is unlikely to last, accept a towel to wipe the egg of your face. Fool.

  • slug

    CS

    I have a lot of time for Ford and I really do wish him well. I am not attacking Alliance here.

    I thought Alliance and Ford were good at opposition. So now they have joined up, I feel something is lost.

    I think that politics at its core is an oppositional business. I worry that now we have no opposition inside the Assembly it will further detatch the place from the people and it will invite opposition from without and from the extremes.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I thought Alliance and Ford were good at opposition. So now they have joined up, I feel something is lost.

    Why don’t you suggest it to Reg ? Ask him to walk out and be the opposition for a change.

    Let me know how that works out.

    Actually, don’t bother. I know Reg doesn’t have the cajones. And even he isn’t stupid enough to believe that opposition in this system of government is anything other than a complete dead end.

  • Driftwood

    In the sixth form talking shop that constitiutes ‘The Assembly’, what is David Ford and his toytown ministry actually going to do apart from waste billions.
    The real Justice Minister is the REAL power

    http://www.dominicgrieve.org.uk/record.jsp?type=requiredPage&ID=2
    In the sixth form talking shop that constitiutes ‘The Assembly’, what is David Ford and his toytown ministry actually going to do apart from waste billions.
    The real Justice Minister is the REAL power

    http://www.dominicgrieve.org.uk/record.jsp?type=requiredPage&ID=2

    And security resides with an actual government minister:

    http://www.geraldhowarth.com/text.aspx?id=1

    So Cancer Research can go to hell as we kit out David Ford with ministerial limousines etc.

    Just don’t complain next time a relative gets
    Ill. David Ford says its nothing to worry about.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Driftwood,

    I’m looking for the abolition of Scottish and Welsh devolution in the Tory manifesto, but I can’t seem to be able to find it. Which party is going to deliver on your desire to abolish all devolved governments and county councils in favour of a single super-government in Westminster ?

  • [quote][i]The Assembly needs an opposition. Otherwise its a club. We need a funded opposition party opposing what is being done by the executive.[/i] ….. Posted by slug on Apr 12, 2010 @ 08:54 PM [/quote]

    No it doesn’t, for that would deliver the nonsense which the Westminster Parliament is, a fragmenting and tribal competition, which spends it time wasting resources and effort rather that utilising and regenerating them, which is exactly where the Irish have been since forever. Time to make a move/quantum leap, methinks, into the Future and deliver joined up mutually beneficial services supported by all and not put an end to the spectacle of jumped up ministers and public official, drunk and drugged up on power, fighting against others for the passing of pet signature projects for a few. If that is to be the model, then pet signature projects for all, will deliver peace for all, for all will then have what they want ……. which is surely the remit of Good Governance …… Find out what the People want and give it to them.

    Anything else is to give them what they don’t want and that is always going to deliver conflict.

    And if something delivered to them doesn’t suit them, they will very soon realise the folly and very quickly demand/request that it be changed for something else, which is better and acceptable to all. Such is the Vital AIdDynamic of Virtually Live Progressive Progress, which also very quickly educates and entertains/edutains the Population to think about the consequences of what they would wish to be delivered to and for them, by the Assembly Executive ….. Big Brother and Sister Officers working for you and them, and Stormont provided.

    The Assembly needs Postmodern HyperRadioProActive Leadership? And if you agree with that, then is it easily Virtually delivered for Real with IT. And don’t worry or concern yourself unduly if you would not know how that is to be delivered, for there are others who do it with IT easily, every day and zerodaily, it being what they do for a living with IT and Media and although extremely complex and very specialised, simple enough to them and their teams.

    [quote][i]If real change is to come to NI then citizens need to be organising to oppose the now 5 parties of Government otherwise we are doomed to more of the same with the possibility of Mr Mc Guinness signing internment orders to quell the disquiet from his former comrades. After that it’s back to year Zero.[/i] …… Posted by Los Lobos on Apr 12, 2010 @ 09:39 PM [/quote]

    Los Lobos, You don’t win anything with disquieting violence or causing division, you just hit the System where it hurts and pocket its money, so that you are left high and dry and sitting pretty with hands in the public till with billions to play with, and that knowledge is something which the Assembly leadership can share with everybody, for it has brought them their riches and just desserts, if you can believe this account ……..
    [url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article569225.ece]Provisional Preparatory Funding Streams[/url]

  • granni trixie

    Returned from “the mainland” yesterday to good weather and the appointment of DF as Justice Minister – which and as Mark Davenport says is a breakthrough in Storment system. Happy days feelings melted into bad old bomb days worries however as I listened to further news of the day.

    But not for long – I have to believe that as the majority do not support the bomb system, there is scope to draw dissidents into the political system,avoiding past miseries.

    But we cannot leave it to politicans alone!

  • Ooops ….. that should of course read …. “and deliver joined up mutually beneficial services supported by all and put an end to the spectacle of jumped up ministers and public officials, drunk and drugged up on power, fighting against others for the passing of pet signature projects for a few.” and not include the not in ….[quote][i] and deliver joined up mutually beneficial services supported by all and not put an end to the spectacle of jumped up ministers and public officials, drunk and drugged up on power, fighting against others for the passing of pet signature projects for a few.[/i][/quote]…. which if left included would render its message nonsensical.

    [quote][i] In the sixth form talking shop that constitiutes ‘The Assembly’, what is David Ford and his toytown ministry actually going to do apart from waste billions.[/i] ….. Posted by Driftwood on Apr 12, 2010 @ 11:10 PM[/quote]

    A valid question, driftwood, along with whom does he command, if anybody? And what would be his commands?

  • “As the new Northern Ireland Justice Minister, the Alliance Party’s David Ford, says in this BBC report”

    David Ford said: “The Alliance Party will not be taking the Policing and Justice Ministry. This Executive is failing in its duties, so Northern Ireland needs a strong and coherent opposition. We are providing that opposition and we will continue to do so. ..”

    Until the price is right?

  • granni trixie

    Nevin: indeed,you are aboslutely right – Alliance pushed for measures it considered essential for the good running of the new Ministry (policy framework,greater priority to shared future policy etc). Would have been stupid not to in my opinion.

  • granni trixie, the Executive and the Committees continue to fail as does the MSM. Where is the strong and coherent opposition to misgovernance going to come from?

  • granni trixie

    Nevin:I think I am right in saying that Alliance always had a strategy of constructive opposition?
    But the system opperating put limits on what this stance could achieve. I see their new role within the Exeuctive as more like that of “critical friend” and anyway I doubt if any party around the table gives an open cheque to collegues.

    Surely there is more than one way to skin a cat or to rephrase Mark Davenport’s comments, this can usher in a new way of doing things.

  • LabourNIman

    well, we are stuck with him… so lets wish the man luck. Poor Alban, will he ever catch a break.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin,

    If Ford had jumped for the ministry on day one, I’m sure you’d be saying the same thing. And if you were hoping or expecting Ford to say no and allow the institutions to collapse – well, I’m happy to disappoint you.