Sinn Fein ‘flip’ from small ‘d’ to big ‘D’ First Minister…

Just putting together that last piece, I belatedly discovered Sinn Fein has resumed the capital D spelling of the Deputy First Minister (compare December and more recently, where Deputy First Minister or generic references to the First Ministers is commonplace. Not sure exactly when it was changed, but it  now applies to official documents and news releases at OFMDFM, whereas it didn’t in early January.

Looks like someone’s been rather cleverly getting all their ducks lined up in a row for election time…

– See also The End of Community Designation

– And Mark Devenport on Joint First Ministers

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  • Cynic2

    Cant you just imagine the endless committee meetings, the scores of cups of Cappuccino, the comfort breaks all required before this political earthquake was released on the unsuspecting world of Northern Ireland politics.

  • Dewi

    Oh Mick – last post but one you wrote:
    “Every conversational site experiences a drop in the quality (and a rise in quantity) of commenting when an election campaign hits” That obviously applies to posting as well – this is nonsense.

  • Mick Fealty


  • Cynic2

    I dont think its nonsense.

    Things like this expose the clanking thinking that goes on inside parties and the ‘angels dancing on pin head’ sophistry of positioning as they try to be all things to as many people as possible

  • Dewi

    A Capital letter on a job description? Newsworthy? Perhaps it’s me who who doesn’t understand importance.

  • Mick Fealty

    Okay, let me come back to you on that Dewi, and I’ll try to give you some fuller background,

  • Mark

    Sinn Fein / McGuinness have stated recently that FM and DFM have equal powers and are therefore are ” the same ” . One title can’t very well have capital letters and not the other.
    That wouldn’t be fair ….. …….. would it ??

  • Pete Baker

    Here’s the Belfast Telegraph report on the earlier change to a small “d” after a FOI request revealed the background detail.

    The previous Stormont administration had referred to Seamus Mallon as the Deputy First Minister for years – because that was the way the title was first set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

    But several weeks after Martin McGuinness took up the job, civil servants began asking the Assembly’s Hansard team to drop the capital D for a lower case d.

    The reason was that the legislation setting up the job – the Northern Ireland Act 1998 – used a lower case d.

    Questions began after Mr McGuinness was described as the Deputy First Minister in the Hansard record of his appearance before a Stormont committee on June 20, 2007.

    A verbal request appears to have been made to change the title. After the Editor of Hansard asked why, Mr McGuinness’ Private Secretary pointed to the legislation.

    In August, an official dealing with liason between the Executive and the Assembly issued a memo asking for input from senior colleagues, pointing out that the department’s title – Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister – used a capital D.

    The Head of the Civil Service, Nigel Hamilton, offered this advice: “I think we need to adopt a consistent approach – subject to a sensible approach.”

    Another senior civil servant said the change was “intended to show that the deputy First Minister is a joint holder of the office of First Minister, rather than being a deputy to the First Minister”. [added emphasis]

  • Dewi

    Ah Pete thanks – “deputy First Minister” is more important than “Deputy First Minister”. Apologies for questioning the vital nature of the discussion.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Its the fact that its stupid that makes the story interesting.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m afraid that’s where ‘we’ are at Dewi. And I don’t mean Slugger.

  • Lionel Hutz


    What are you implying though? That MMcG is now seeking to emphasise the Deputy part to suggest that they are not equal posts. Surely that doesn’t mix well with the statement from Adams you have quoted in the other post?

  • Cynic2


    I think the reverse. Hes positioning it that if he becomes FM he wont Lord it over Peter.

    Of course he wont. But in another way its irrelevant. If McGuinness is FM the Assembly wont last a term

    Personally I dont give a damn. But Unionists in general will.

  • joeCanuck

    So now we know how senior Civil Servants spend their working days.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well that’s a good question.

    Given the trouble that was gone to to get it reduced (someone went so far as to get it put into legislation), it does seem strange.

    Consider the possibility SF win the post of FM in May? The Deputy’s all nicely capitalised for Peter? rather I prefer to think/hope it’s a confidence thing.

    Time to put away the childish parlour games of last term?

  • joeCanuck

    Time to put away the childish parlour games of last term?

    That certainly would be nice, Mick. But as i asked on another thread (with no answer), where will the glue to make a fully functioning cabinet come from? Just an intent to survive or can we be offered a good path to a better future?