“The present Assembly has been blocked from delivering for over two years…”

So, what’s happening? The DUP could not convince the Secretary of State to go along with their request to suspend the Executive, so they’ve moved to phase two, which is to stop the business of the Executive for that time. The precedent lies in the 154 days Sinn Fein did the same (although the level of media interest was tiny by comparison).

Peter Robinson…

“If it becomes apparent to us that a satisfactory resolution in the talks is not possible then, as we indicated in our earlier statement, as a last resort Ministerial resignations will follow.

“However, we must make it clear that any election that follows such an eventuality will not be an election to return to the present Assembly arrangements, as we will not nominate a First Minister until a fundamental and more wide-ranging negotiation produces a system that can fully function.

“The present Assembly has been blocked from delivering for over two years because Sinn Fein and the SDLP would not take difficult financial decisions.

“The DUP is committed to engaging in the Talks in a positive and diligent manner and will seek to see the Stormont House Agreement implemented and the issue of paramilitaries dealt with comprehensively.”


Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Catcher in the Rye


    I think you’re a little confused. The DUP haven’t, as far as I can tell, asked the Secretary of State to suspend the executive; they’ve asked the Secretary of State to move to exclude Sinn Féin. The SoS hasn’t done this, and as far as I can tell she can’t.

    As the SoS re-clarified again today, no powers exist at present to suspend either the executive or the assembly. The government’s position at the moment is that they’ve no plan to do this, although it’s hard to believe they don’t have an emergency bill in their back pocket.

    I think the DUP are trying to play for time. They want devolution to continue, they know that it cannot continue without SF, so they’re hoping that a way through will present itself.

  • NotNowJohnny

    “However, we must make it clear that any election that follows such an eventuality will not be an election to return to the present Assembly arrangements, as we will not nominate a First Minister until…….”

    Peter seems to be assuming that the DUP will win enough seats at the election to be entitled to nominate a First Minister ….. I would have thought that Peter would have realised by now that one should not take the outcome of elections for granted.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    It’s not a case of taking it for granted.

    The DUP are not going to be toppled as the largest unionist party in the short term. If the UUP perform phenomenally well – unlikely given that the party has been gutted from the inside out during the course of the pat ten years – they might gain 3-4 seats more than they did in 2011 at the expense of the DUP. That would put the UUP on 20 seats to the DUP’s 34.

    Ask yourself – why have unionist voters provided the DUP with a mandate to implement powersharing for so long ? The answer is that because despite everything they trust the DUP. That kind of trust doesn’t evaporate overnight as long as the DUP keep control of their message and maintain unity within the party.

    Betting against Peter Robinson simply isn’t wise.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    2014 Government Local Elections DUP 144K UUP 101K 40K Votes Difference only requires an 18% Vote Swing. Also Add in new TUV – UKIP – PUP votes which could also be deducted from that DUP Vote. I don’t think the DUP are sitting just as pretty as you make out Catcher ! If I was a DUP Election Officer I would be Very Concerned !

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Concerned about what ?

    The TUV have been challenging the DUP since 2007. They’ve failed to even scratch them. With a poor candidate and all the odds stacked against them the DUP still managed to snatch Jim Allister’s European seat in 2009 and held it in 2014.

    UKIP are basically David McNarry and that other boy from South Down. They’re not going anywhere. McNarry will do well to hold onto his single assembly seat. And if he does, it will be at the expense of the UUP, not the DUP.

    The PUP can’t even find the money to set up a website and couldn’t run candidates, even on a token basis, in 2010 or in the European election in 2014. An exceptionally good election for them will be one where they take two seats, one each in North and East Belfast.

    Finally, the DUP put a booby trap in the Northern Ireland Act. The First Minister comes from whichever party is the largest. The DUP will simply point out that fragmenting the unionist vote and voting for other parties will simply make it more likely that Martin McGuinness will be First Minister.

    So I’m sure the DUP’s election officers have a pretty good handle on what is going on. Compare this with other parties – the PUP and UKIP probably don’t even have a full time staff member to run elections, and the TUV and UUP don’t have the candidates.

    So I’d say the DUP are sitting pretty. Happy to take bets, if anyone wants, on the DUP coming out of any pre-Christmas election with at least 34 seats.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Your on Catcher at least 34 DUP Seats – 500 Quid they don’t achieve. What Odds are you giving me !

  • Catcher in the Rye

    You truly have a screw lose if you’re willing to take a bet like that without knowing the odds.

    Keep it nice and simple. The winner pays £50 to Slugger’s tip jar.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I asked for your Odds Catcher because I wanted to see how confident you where with the bet ? Would you have give me 10/1 ? but anyway let’s go with your option. The winner pays £50 to Slugger’s Tip Jar ! Cheers and Good Luck !

  • chrisjones2

    They want paid.

    Its all about fishing

    One model is the traditional approach

    The big bait to dangle for the DUPS is ‘we can make NAMA go away’ and a few peerages as lures

    For the Shinners its say an Irish Language Act or a bung for Casement in return for welfare reform

    The second model is perhaps teh West Tyrone model. Drop a hand grenade in the water. Big bang and fish float to surface where you just scoop them up

    My heart and head are divided on which is best

  • Zig70

    I fail to see how the right don’t see putting the costs on the rich rather than screwing the poor isn’t making hard choices. Compared to rolling over and playing Tory poddle. All the stars seem to be pointing to the dup being shown to be morally bankrupt on economic choices. The bigot in me hopes they are but my head says they will manage to bluster through. Anyway, that is really a side show to the bottom line that any decent socialist can’t implement these Tory cuts which target poor children the most. To my mind any decent person.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    You’ve got it.

  • Paddy Reilly

    We’ve been through this so many times before. The final, amended version was that the 1st Minister would be from the largest party in the largest designation, not the largest party. So Unionist fragmentation doesn’t matter.

  • Barneyt

    suspend the executive…introduce a 4 week delay on proceedings. The SF exclusion is surely a separate request? Does it not amount to the same? Either way, happy the UK government did not concede.

  • Barneyt

    Whilst the DUP have gained ground, there are many traditional unionists, not naturally predisposed towards hate, that would not vote for the “DUP shower” and instead abstain. They may come back if they see some level of effectiveness in perhaps, a more moderate UUP?

  • Barneyt

    Are you sure they were that cute? The growth of the DUP coincided with the growth of SF surely. You could say, one form of extremism be-gets the other? Equally the demise of the UUP correlates with that of the SDLP. It could however be a coincidence.

    The likelihood is that the largest party is always going to come from one tribal camp other the other? The DUP however are more vulnerable to a split unionist vote that the nationalist or republican parties. Gains from TUV and the PUP however unlikely pose a threat.

  • Barneyt

    ok..learned something tonight. So its based on vote share per designation? and depending on which side has the most votes, the largest within that designation takes the first role. That shites on some of my postulations above.

  • Barneyt

    Fair play Catcher and T.E.

  • Paddy Reilly


  • Zeno

    “The present Assembly has been blocked from delivering for over two years…”
    They went into advanced eye poke after the City Hall Flag debacle. Maze cancelled was the first poke back and it’s just continued on since.

  • IRF

    Surely the loser pays out, not the winner?