“Martin McGuinness’s “veto” throws down challenge to “voluntary” coalition

One of the most predictable pre-election statements of the season, vouchsafed to Liam Clarke. However sound according to the system, Martin McGuinness’ “veto” seems rather less than absolute in practice, should the UUP and the SDLP refuse to take up Executive seats after the election  – and boycott D’Hondt. It would surely provoke a crisis in the Assembly. But to what end? Could it really force a ” voluntary coalition?”  Is this really what voters want?

Above all, how keenly will Peter Robinson and the DUP campaign on their ideas for  a voluntary coalition and a smaller Assembly? With their dominance of unionims all but assured, the temptation not to rock the boat must be strong.  Either way, McGuinness’ pre-emptive statement puts irresistible pressure on the other parties to make their various positions clear.

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  • The Word

    “Martin McGuinness’ “veto””

    Maybe this is just a bluff and the underlying problem for Sinn Fein is to explain how a social democratic system of government is in place at the expense of his republican desires to honour the nation of Ireland, and which also undermines the monarchism of unionism.

    The system of government honours the people and maybe Martin should talk things over with them. Its no use taking instruction from advisors if you have no hand to play, Martin.

  • lamhdearg

    voluntary coalition yes, an opposition yes, but through evolution not revolution, we have had enough of the latter.

  • Chris Donnelly

    McGuinness is on firm grounds articulating this view.

    There is no real consensus for change.

    The DUP like the idea of a coalition which does not ‘have’ to tie them to Sinn Fein (come to think of it, all unionist parties quite like that.)

    The UUP and SDLP are simply stuck for ideas, not knowing how to dig themselves out of the mess they find themselves in.

    Lamhdearg might be right, and indeed the SDLP/UUP could make things interesting by excluding themselves from office.

  • Cynic2

    “There is no real consensus for change”

    there was no concensus for change in 69 so is it now ‘Proddie lie down’

  • Chris Donnelly


    Do tell me how/ why you feel ‘Proddies’ are lying down at present?

    I’m all ears…..

  • Chris what is your definition of consensus? DUP, UUP, Alliance, Greens, TUV, UKIP NI, and the Tories have all expressed a wish for a more normal system with some form of opposition whereby the ruling parties can be voted out … SDLP is non committal not willing to break ranks from SF but i think in reality supportive of changing the system to something getting round the stalemates we see happening.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Inadvertently, you answer the question with your inference that the SDLP are ‘not willing to break ranks from Sinn Fein.’

    Ever stop to think why that might be the case?

    There is no appetite within nationalism for tinkering with a system which, though far from perfect, has not involved their political representatives being marginalised and/ or excluded in the manner that continues to occur on many local govenment councils.

    The SDLP know this, hence the retreat from Durkan’s ill-conceived suggestion some time back.

    If the motley crew of discontented parties you mention want to do something about that, let’s hear a proposal which is capable of winning the support of nationalists.

    Else the status quo will remain….

  • The Word


    “The SDLP know this, hence the retreat from Durkan’s ill-conceived suggestion some time back.”

    The SDLP position has always been that it was our political model and Durkan was possibly merely suggesting to others than even we weren’t happy with it. That seems to have kept people in other parties happy for some time.

    When we want change, we’ll let you all know.

  • Chris Donnelly

    The Word

    He was ‘possibly merely suggesting’ that, was he????

    Sounds like you agree with me then….;>

  • MichaelD

    Elect ofmdfm with popular vote (say 70% required from a run off, or some figure deemed appropriate).

    They then select the executive from the public or assembly (though if they are MLAs their seat will be co-opted).

    The executive would be held to account by the assembly and it’s committees as they are currently set up. Assembly would be elected mid-term like in the US.

    It’s knd of like what London has.

    What’s wrong with this that it’s never considered?

  • Brian Walker

    It is ironic that voters today have no greater choice of an alternative governent with a multiparty coalition, than they had under a single party government pre-1972.

    There is of course the obvious basic difference of the mutual veto. But until or unless a significant cross community group unite behind a different type of choice, there wil surely be no fundamental change to anything like left-right politics or a progressive centre.

    I can’t see either the UUP or the SDLP making much impact merely by withdrawing from the Executive. They would need to stand for something jointly with Alliance. Perhaps ad hoc alliances may develop duriing ther life of the next Assembly or the one after that if sectarian tensions significantly reduce. A futher fall in the UUP and SDLP vote might drive them together for some causes (but what?)

    On the other hand, an even stronger DUP and SF with their internal rivals decisively defeated. might make them more confident in producing the odd progressive policy. Might that stage be reached in May?

  • Cynic2

    Dear Chris

    Do keep up and please stop inventing comments I didn’t make. I posed the question ‘is it now Proddies lie down’ in response to McGuinness’s attitude and his acting like an 1960s Unionist.

    Marty needs to realise that being DFM or even FM doesn’t mean he owns the other parties and can dictate what they do. We all know that’s how the Leadership within SF works but externally its different,

    As for not allowing an opposition – twaddle. Marty has a veto in just the same way that everyone else does. He cannot stop it IF they choose to do it but I have little doubt that the lure of well padded Ministerial seats and control of the pork barrel will prevail

  • Cynic2

    “left-right politics or a progressive centre”

    The county council is hardly big enough for that

  • Eglise en bois

    This country needs, and our politicians should, be expected to negotiate the priorities for Government before they enter the executive.

    Clearly our current system of, pick the ministry that most pisses of the other side isn’t good government. Before D’Hontd is run, the basis of a programme for Government should be agreed, following that the appointment of minister should be on the basis of who will take forward which policies and all the Executive should be signed up.

    If one party or more cannot sign up to the negoatiated programme for Government they can either wreck it from within – ala what we have – or they can do the decent thing and opt out into opposition and campaign for their alternative.

    or is this too much like normal Government for Northern Ireland?

  • The Word


    “Sounds like you agree with me then….;>”

    If you want to believe that, then who am I to stop you?

  • tinman


    They would need to stand for something jointly with Alliance.

    Wouldn’t the left wing of the UUP have as much in common with the SDLP as with the right wing of their own party – the constitutional question aside? Those two groups +/- some of the Alliance party could form a centre-left grouping with no official stance on the union, but with progressive policies on issues like welfare, jobs, education and healthcare. That would be a huge step forward for our politics. Not sure anyone would vote for them, though (apart from me, of course).