Department of Employment and Learning goes, but Alliance keep Justice?

Stephen Farry, by all accounts one of the more competent ministers in the Executive, is likely to step down when legislation comes through the Assembly to axe his department. Ken Reid reports the deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein (they have all the power says Ken) will confirm Farry’s party leader David Ford in his current role as justice minister outside the d’Hondt mechanism.

Interestingly, the axing of this department will necessitate a re-run of d’Hondt (which, outside Big Al’s next gaffe, may be the only fun we hard core NI politics anoraks get this year)… It’s interesting to note that the ‘consultation period’ for these measures is a mere seven days… which must be a record for any consultancy on the hill…

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  • Drumlins Rock

    Welcome move, if an interim measure on the way to reducing the departments to 8 or less, but more likely to be a cop out.

  • Eglise en bois

    So all the bluster of being in Government by right – under the D’Hontd principle is sacrificed for David Ford keeping his ministerial car.

    Principles are wonder things, if you don’t like these ones, i have plenty more where these came from!

  • Old Mortality

    There may well be a case for getting rid of the DEL, but that would apply equally to other departments. This move demonstrates the worthlessness of the local insititutions: good and efficient government always comes a poor second behind politicking.

  • Welcome move indeed.
    But does it necessarily follow that when the Department for Employment/Learning goes that Stephen Farry also goes.
    Is there not a situation where Alliance can have just one Ministry (Justice) and the Minister is Stephen Farry.

    Farry ……..”by all accounts one of the more competent ministers in the Executive”……..I dont know what accounts Mr Fealty is reading…….but even if we accept that Farry is brilliant……then we have to acknowledge that David Fords performance has “by all accounts” been embarrassingly bad.

    So there is perhaps reason to think that after May both these men are in their competence level.
    It is not certain that having had a taste for Executive life, Mr Farry will go quietly.
    But maybe the post of Speaker will become available in the not too distant future.

  • RyanAdams

    “Stephen Farry, by all accounts one of the more competent ministers in the Executive…”

    Part of me shudders at the prospect of Sinn Fein gaining absolute power over all three levels of education. Their performance with the primary and secondary sectors leaves much to be desired without them being allowed to get their claws into further education colleges and universities.

    Finally if any department should be facing the axe, why not DARD? It is the smallest department with the smallest budget, so the destruction of DEL is very much a case of cart before horse. Another department which has lost the run of itself under the same party as education.

  • I agree with DR. There are too many departments and way too many MLAs.

  • RyanAdams

    “I agree with DR. There are too many departments and way too many MLAs.”

    There was initially a proposal from the DUP to reduce the number of mlas from 6 to 5 per seat however I think the electoral reform bill reducing the constituencies from 18 to 16 is likely to prevent that initial proposal from happening (possibly too many carriages off the gravy train in one swoop), However should the electoral reform bill fail and the number of parliamentary seats remain at 18, I could see the appetite from DUP/SF in reducing the number of mlas down to 5, as such a move would chop their rivals in the UUP/SDLP off at the knees in places like N/S/E Belfast among others.

  • Ryan,

    I would go further and reduce it to 4 MLAs per constituency.

  • quality

    And DCAL rides on…

  • RyanAdams


    Desirable as it is, 4 would cut the big two directly just by looking at Belfast alone. Mathematically, the status quo 4 x 6 arrangement suits SF perfect. Of the eight seats that would be axed under your proposal, four would be SF, 2 in West, 1 in North, and the sole seat in South.


    DCAL is another one which could be easily divided between DENI, DOE and DSD.

  • Barry the Blender

    There is no real reason why all constituencies should elect the same number of MLAs

  • Reader

    Barry the Blender: There is no real reason why all constituencies should elect the same number of MLAs
    Except that they are also Westminster constituencies and should each contain the same electorate

  • Naughton

    Firstly let me say upfront there are too many departments in the executive and if we could drop to six or seven departments (or even one department with a series of directorates like Scotland) that would be very positive and save a lot of wasted money.

    But, the splitting of DEL, and the movement of our universities and especially our colleges back into DE is a serious retrograde step that will do untold harm to the prospects of a generation of our young people.

    DEL has some serious flaws, but it has over time brought much more of an economic focus to light to the third level elements of our balkanised education system. That economic focus was completely absent from the old DENI and there is little evidence that DE is any better. The result is that far too many of us were provided with little or no careers advice, that farr too many students had no awareness of the future jobs that would be available.

    What is worse is that the executive have an alternative that was independently produced by an expert panel at THEIR request. The Barnett review was very clear that DETI and DEL must be merged as this would be the best fit of responsibilities within government with the needs of our economy.

    But it seems evidence and expert advice doesn’t count for much these days.

  • RyanAdams

    “There is no real reason why all constituencies should elect the same number of MLAs”

    If you were to reduce the number of seats in the assembly, you’d reduce the scope for constituencies to look over/under populated.

    For example at present we have four constitiuencies who should have seven seats and two who should have five seats.

    If as Joe mentions above you go to a 72 seat assembly (nominally 4 per current seat) you reduce the scope for extra/fewer seats, with just Upper Bann and Newry and Armagh marginally entitled to an extra seat, with East and South Belfast not being underpopulated enough to lose one.

  • Coll Ciotach

    Isn’t this just a case of Marty and Peter pulling up the ladder?

  • cynic2

    “Isn’t this just a case of Marty and Peter pulling up the ladder?”

    Yep. SDLP’s turn next for the treatment then the UUP and on to the glorious 1000 year Reich!

  • cynic2

    In these times of Austerity I think we should start a new “50+0+0 Movement” on Slugger – “5200” or short

    Halve the number of MLAs to 52

    Abolish all the local councils. Let the Stormont County Council run all the services locally and contract most of those services out to the Private Sector (where they will be done just as well but cheaper and more efficiently)

    Cap the Civil Service at its current size and make it absorb the management costs of the Councils

    All that will cut costs dramatically, make MLAs really accountable and kick start real politics not the current sham fight

  • cynic2

    “But it seems evidence and expert advice doesn’t count for much these days.”

    You didnt think this was a rational process did you? Politics dear boy …politics.

  • socialdemocrat

    Would anyone else agree witn me in saying that this “deal” as mentioned in the above article, and let’s not pretend that it is anything other than a duopolistic deal, (1) makes the government structures look like a joke with an entire department being seemingly erased in a day and (2) making a farce of the Assembly and Executive Review Committee who is charged with examining the number of and remit of government departments amongst other areas (and who is to say the DUP and SF won’t make the decisions regarding Parts III and IV of the Northern Ireland Act next week, o wait… they have come to an agreement on the allocation of the Justice portfolio as well, Alliance must be so grateful). Said committee is due to make its report to the SoS in May 2015… Big Owen will be able to read it in its entirety before his finishes his morning crumpet.

    This is not power – sharing but rather an abrasive demonstration of power-telling.. an absolute joke. A total carvery.. and not the good type you get in the Glenowen on a Sunday 🙂

  • socialdemocrat

    apologies for any spelling or grammatical errors… it’s exam time at Queens and the old head is fried.