Jennifer McCann is the last piece in Sinn Fein’s complex re-shuffle…

First Belfast with Gerry Kelly. Then Derry with Martina Anderson. So, now the junior minister’s job comes back to Belfast in the shape of Jennifer McCann. Everything nicely balanced out between the two big centres of Nationalism in Northern Ireland.

For Sinn Fein this is the party appointment par excellence. All three of Sinn Fein’s junior ministers at OFMdFM have been former IRA volunteers. Ms McCann has the added value of being one of Gerry Adams’ former colleagues in West Belfast. And, like Martina and Gerry she’s an ex prisoner.

Unlike the resignation of Martin there’s no financial gain for the party here since its essentially shuffling the same seats, so the party will take the same cut from Jennifer’s salary that it took from Martina’s and Gerry’s before her. Martina will asked to give the party exactly what Bairbre before her.

And the party’s considerable and two state funded infrastructure will follow the representative as required.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Who was the new MLA in Martina’s place? any gossip on the other reshuffle? Which on the face of it will cost SF money as the MPs don’t get a salary.

  • RyanAdams

    Suffice to add the first time I believe the party has chosen a minister from West Belfast since pre St Andrews.

  • Mick Fealty

    Who were you thinking of Ryan?

  • RyanAdams

    Was de’Brun not a minister for a while pre 2003? Can’t think of any ministers being appointed from West Belfast since then.

    Although given the electoral advantage ministers often carry over it probably wouldn’t have been a concern of SF in the parties more recent times (Sinn Fein obviously not having been found wanting when it comes to votes in West Belfast). Maybe more so now when provisional boundaries certainly jeopardise their fifth seat and apply considerable pressure on the fourth.

  • Mick Fealty

    Maybe that’s so. Technically she was last one in last time. But since they manage their vote so tightly it would be hard to say if she was naturally the weakest link. Clearly the leadership want her saved from any flood that may come.

  • Drumlins Rock

    So you remove the top polling candidate and promote the bottom polling one? umm

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s the way they did it in Fianna Fail for generations…

  • RyanAdams

    I would agree with that Mick. The personnel changes in the New SW Belfast seat will be interesting and she is obviously being equiped to survive. With a co-option in the pipe line for Paul Maskey there will also be another name in the ring, in addition to Alex Maskey and Mairtin O’Muilleoir who may fancy chasing BT9 which would be key in fending off a challange from the SDLP for a second seat. If thats the case then opting to shore up a former jail bird to lead the ticket may ill thought out; interesting times ahead across NI for all parties with a possible 12 redundancies on the way!

  • London_Irish

    Apart from Sinn Féin, does anyone here believe parties make ministerial appointments with their electoral implications in mind? And if so, to what extent?

    Is Arlene Foster Minister for Photo Opportunities* with a view to a future Fermanagh South Tyrone battle for the Westminster seat or is she there purely on merit? Does Nelson’s profile help compensate for the loss of Nigel Dodds?

    Alex Attwood is safe in his seat (prior to the boundary review), and his running mate is a long way off the pace so that can’t be the SDLP’s plan in West Belfast.

    Danny Kennedy is safe in Newry and Armagh, but I can’t see them shifting William Irwin for the second unionist seat there, so why not have given the DEL portfolio to Basil towards the end of the last mandate and maybe without wee Jeffrey on the Lagan Valley ticket, the UUP could have taken the DUP’s 4th seat.

    *Arlene Foster is in the paper every day it seems. Personally I think that given the spin put on the creation of about 10 jobs a month by DETI, the Minister should also have to pose for a photo outside every business that has closed during her tenure, handing out the P45s. Not that I blame the Department, but it is a two-way street…

  • RyanAdams

    London Irish,

    Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

    Danny Kennedy was at one point tipped to be a runner for Upper Bann, a constituency where the UUP have been closing the gap on the DUP recently, so its enitirely possible he may be going for the seat in 2015, although I’ll leave DR to confirm whether thats true or speculation.

    Attwood being chosen by Ritchie was more of a loyality to Richie thing, and that was the catalyst for her downfall.

    Sinn Fein have John O’Dowd in Education to grab a second seat in Upper Bann next time round, probably from Delores. As for O’Neill, its more about the agriculture portfolio being a winner in the West where its the primary industry and not so much the candidate.

    Arlene is more a case of fending off a UUP advance on the second DUP seat in FST I think.

    In order to determine if it was really on merit you would have to compare MLA’s backgrounds and determining whether there is a more suitable candidate within the party for a ministry, otherwise I believe it is just for electoral purposes. For example within the DUP we have a farmer for a health minister and a teacher for a finance minister …

  • Comrade Stalin

    For example within the DUP we have a farmer for a health minister and a teacher for a finance minister …

    The teacher in question wrote at least one A-Level economics textbook. We used it in St Malachy’s.

    Do I recall correctly that he set the A Level economics exam too ?

  • London_Irish


    Interesting response there, nothing I would really argue with.

    With regards to John O’Dowd, I agree there are big ambitions to get a second seat in Upper Bann – and Sinn Féin did well in 2011 to better balance their vote whilst just failing to add to it. The SDLP will be praying that Dolores has no plans to retire in the near future!

    However, I think he is regarded highly (and nothing to do with his size!) within the party in the north, and he earned his stripes as Caitríona’s firewall throughout most of the previous mandate. However, nobody ever seems to talk about Sinn Féin rewarding its MLAs with senior positions, its just not the way they work.

    Is it possible that Michelle O’Neill’s appointment was in preparation for a Westminster election in Mid-Ulster against a seasoned veteran like Patsy McGlone? With six co-options to date in this Assembly term, can’t see Sinn Féin worrying about another one…

    When talking about the suitability of MLAs for ministerial positions, it really does show up the difference between Belfast and London, where the default setting for the latter seems to be ex-solicitor with a civil servant-esque transferability about them, rather than needing to be from a farming/rural background, or a health background etc.

    Should Danny Kennedy jump constituency to Upper Bann and win, it will set alarm bells ringing amongst the MPs who aren’t also in the Assembly and put a spanner in the works for the phasing out of double jobbing, if it is felt that the lack of local exposure that Stormont offers is costly.

  • RyanAdams

    Apologies CS, Wasn’t aware!

  • Brian Walker

    In the chain of events isn’t co-option for the Assembly very undemocratic and demeaning as if it was a parish council with the parties behaving like old communist politburos?

    This doesn’t apply only to SF of course but surely co-option as well as dual/triple mandates should be abolished.

    At least Martin McGuinness’s Westminster seat has to be filled at a byelection. But wouldn’t it be nice if somebody actually occupied it?

  • London_Irish


    I asked that myself at length in the previous Martin McGuinness thread:

    Not a fan of co-option at all, but I’m feeling consigned to the knowledge that it is an irremovable fact of NI devolution…

  • RyanAdams

    Its a necessary evil, but i’m of the view it should be capped to one per party per year, I make SF to be going for 6 here so far and thats just an abuse.

  • FuturePhysicist

    When talking about the suitability of MLAs for ministerial positions, it really does show up the difference between Belfast and London, where the default setting for the latter seems to be ex-solicitor with a civil servant-esque transferability about them, rather than needing to be from a farming/rural background, or a health background etc.

    Erm we have agriculture and health departments, so why not? Look at Fine Gael Doctor in Health, and so many other appointments.

    The majority of British Ministers are PPE graduates from Oxbridge who are taught a system of government based on a narrow school of non-deviating neo-liberalism to preserve and enslave the British population in, whether they are Labour, Lib Dem or Tory. They are often intellectual clones of a single lecturer, most unable to think for themselves with no apparent individuality or personality.

  • ranger1640

    Here is the real reason for the shinner reshuffle.

    New financial regulations at Stormont meant that Sinn Fein would have lost more than £700,000 in expenses had they not ordered its five MPs to quit as MLAs, it has emerged.

    A redrafting of expenses by the Report of the Independent Financial Review Panel will progressively reduce the average £70,000 in office expenses MLAs receive.

    If the Assembly member is also an MP they received 50% back but that was already cut to 37.5% in April – some £27,594 – with further payouts being reduced to 25% next year and to just 12.5% the following year.

    With four of Sinn Fein’s MLAs quitting the Assembly to focus on their MP duties at Westminster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness quitting as an MP the party will benefit from five full Office Costs Expenses allowances.

    Seems our socialist shinners like their expenses.