SDLP Motion to Exclude Foster reaches 30 signatures

An SDLP motion to exclude Arlene Foster as First Minister for a period of 6 months has now reached 30 signatures and will be debated on Monday.

The motion is backed by the Ulster Unionist Party, Alliance Party, Green Party, People Before Profit and Traditional Unionist Voice.

If all MLAs attend, that gives the motion 41 votes in favour, that is a majority over the 36 DUP MLAs.  The Speaker Robin Newton cannot vote and Bell is shaky at the moment.

Some key questions ahead;

Will Sinn Fein back this motion? The party has some difficulty here as they struggle to keep the ship afloat whilst trying to be seen to hold the DUP to account. Although  the party president Gerry Adams made some unfavourable comments about the DUP today.

Will the DUP sign a petition of concern? That is almost certain to happen if Sinn Fein agree to back or abstain on the motion.

How will Jonathan Bell vote? If he turns up and votes non confidence in the First Minister, this could be a trigger to expel him from the DUP.


David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

  • Granni Trixie

    Jeffrey Donaldson (Sir) on Talkback says that Republicans want Arlene out because they don’t want a strong unionist leader! As some on Slugger predicted, here comes the sectarian cards into play. If the unionist people fall for that one they deserve the leadership they are getting.

    Though I have hopes this kind of stunt may prove to be a game changer – the people – all the people putting pressure on the DUP to own up.

  • Dan

    Feeble from Donaldson.
    The incompetence of Foster isn’t lost on anyone.

    The country owes Foster nothing. She needs to go.

  • ted hagan

    I honestly can’t see what benefit suspending Foster would have. Let’s get to the truth of this scandal by holding a public inquiry, which is a much more important goal. Personally I think the Assembly’s reputation is at stake, not just Foster and the DUP’s.
    Everyone seemed to be asleep at the wheel at Stormont. So much so that it took the BBC and Nolan to wake them up.

  • Mirrorballman

    Dangerous times for the DUP, could be even more dangerous for SF.

    They have to vote with this or lose all credibility with their voters. PB4P & SDLP will hit them hard if they don’t force the DUP to use a PoC. Even abstaining may not be enough to stop that.

    Force the DUP to use a PoC and then call for a public inquiry. Public will be right behind them.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Well don’t the DUP have many “here’s a POC we done earlier” in a drawer somewhere with Jonathan Bells signature on it

  • Blade Sprinter

    Having an opposition in a framework that was designed specifically NOT to have an opposition quares the pitch in novel ways.

    In the south or Westminster the govt stands or falls together, and there is a bit more cover for siding with the govt for coalition members.

    But no such cover exists for SF here, they are either supporting Foster or not. The DUP will just nominate another DUP person even if Foster is ejected (see PoC). Either way SF have to deal with the fallout from their “coalition partner” in the executive.

    Must seem like a brilliant political move that forks SF, from Eastwood’s perspective. And it might just be.

    Side note: cuts to recent poor & elderly winter heating allowances are shown to be even more capriciously malevolent in the light of this outrageous scandal wasting the taxpayers money! And I remember how outrageous paying 70k to a spad was.

  • I honestly can’t see what benefit suspending Foster would have. …. ted hagan

    To encourage the others to do significantly better …. that is the benefit of suspending Foster, ted hagan …… for whenever everyone seems to be asleep at the wheel at Stormont, it is the captain of the titanic ship who is responsible and takes the rap. And such is the only honourable course of action open to a leadership unfit for good purpose i.e. costing innocents, present future and past, hundreds of millions of pounds which they don’t have to give and should not be giving.

    And whenever that happens, one is billed and forced to pay for services which are not kosher, is that as a fraud being perpetrated and tantamount to a criminal action?

    And yes, the future of the Assembly as an acceptable form of elite executive governance of an ignorant population, via an ignorant public election process, are the stakes on the table.

    Are the DUP a one horse party? Is there no one new able to lead from the front with viable new ideas?

  • Katyusha

    Great idea. Put her on the naughty step for six months.
    A sin-bin mechanism for ministers would be a useful tool in a government that can be propped up again and again no matter what is thrown at it.

  • Redstar

    Apparently MMG has now been forced to call for his boss to step aside temporarily. Choreographed charade has begun

  • hotdogx

    MB I’m not so sure if it’s dangerous for the DUP, they will just have to say, look themuns could elect MMG as FM and unionists will vote again in their droves for them. The national distraction applies and this is why nothing changes or improves here and why NI can never work or improve! What do you think

  • Granni Trixie

    I think this is a significant move by SF. Hitherto they were hedging their bets just coming down on the side of keeping in with their partners, the DUP. I think it signals that SF leaders such as MMG are rethinking their response to the crisis.
    Likely after their big meeting tomorrow SF will issue a statement showing they are crossing over to not support Arlene.

    I’m mighty relieved as I feared SF would hang in there with the DUP hence be owed a favour such as say conceding something like the so called Maze Peace centre.

    With all parties other than the DUP united I cant see how Arlene can keep on the way she’s going. O – sorry- forgot about Claire Sugden. Which way will she jump now?

  • mjh

    That’s a delicious idea Lionel. It would highlight even further the abuse of the Petition of Concern.

    Sadly I suspect they will get up a new one for this occasion. – although the absence of Bell’s name would add further embarrassment – especially if any other name were missing.

  • SDLP supporter

    Typical dog-whistle sectarian tactics.

  • Colm Heaney

    apparently no POC is needed as the exclusion motion would require cross community support

  • jm

    I was wondering what SF might have negotiated in order to fence sit this one out too! I still think Arlene will be grand.

  • Zig70

    SF are only in Stormont on their ability to standup to unionism. If they side with the DUP and the SDLP can’t make capital on it then they are doomed.

  • ted hagan

    Well I did hear journalist Eamonn Mallie say that Sinn Fein might have a master plan and could be playing this affair rather adeptly. You never know.

  • the rich get richer

    They had previously tried the blaster plan with not overwhelming success and it certainly has taken a while to formulate the “master” plan or is it just waiting for opportunity to knock . I suppose the Dup were bound to deliver an opportunity at some point .

  • Msiegnaro

    It seems unlikely Sinn Fein and indeed other parties aren’t involved in the scandal in some way, no committee is run solely by one party, hence Sinn Fein’s reluctance to come forward.

  • Granni Trixie

    Join the ‘blame everybody but me’ Party?

  • Granni Trixie

    I think that you are on to something (note: I didn’t say you are on something ). Perhaps in setting up a system for Government, power-sharing, insufficient attention has been given to ensure There is adequate scrutiny and accountability. I suppose when people are selling the wares of ‘the peace process in NI’ they can point to this as a lesson (.not) learnt?

  • Brian Walker

    After DPM ‘s call for Arlene to step aside what happens if Sinn Fein abstains? If she doesn’t what will they do? She benefited when Robinson stepped aside voluntarily in different circumstances. The precedent begins to look appealing compared to the risks if she continues to defy the call.

  • Granni Trixie

    I interpret MMG call to Arlene as a sign that SF have decided that to continue to back her in the face of public opinion (esp in places such as WB) is the wrong way to proceed. I predict that the SF meeting on Sat is window dressing and that before long it will be full tilt into getting rid of her.

  • Granni Trixie

    What evidence for your opinion? Yes, they ought to have been more alert but do we know what informatin was brought to other parties which informed their decisiONS?

  • Granni Trixie

    Is there is not some sanction then there is no hope for future government.
    I mean what do you have to do in NI government to have somethIng happen to You? Are the rules that everybody else works to i.e. Mess up and you’re out not good enough for our government ?

  • Msiegnaro

    I don’t think any of the parties/MLAs are worth a tinker’s curse in the Assembly, Jim Allister aside – the Alliance, UUP and SDLP have provided no opposition and any investigating is being done by the BBC,

  • Msiegnaro

    If Gerry Adams wouldn’t resign – who will?

  • ted hagan

    There’s plenty of time for sanctions, if necessary, after a public inquiry, otherwise there is the danger of prejudging this affair.
    A cool, calm approach is needed to get to the heart of this DUP fiasco.

  • North Down

    How much did the dup waste

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “How will Jonathan Bell vote ? If he turns up and votes non confidence in the First Minister, this could be a trigger to expel him from the DUP ?”
    I don’t think he will be worried on that score, his toast has well and truely been ate !

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Exactly and Unionism owes Foster nothing either for her putting it into this situation !

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “I still think Arlene will be grand” Nah ! Once the POC is issued by the DUP to save Arlene the Shinners will have no other choice but bring down the Coalition Government and we are all back to the Polling Booths. I can see SF doing quite well at any such election out of this and the DUP getting the busted nose (which it deserves) by the Unionist Electorate !

  • Granni Trixie

    I think that there is already sufficient knowledge in the public domain to make a fair judgment that Arlene must take some responsibility for what has happened. And to judge her on how she and her party are dealing with the crisis. If any other party leader were in this position they would be gone.

  • T.E.Lawrence
    It would appear that they are not the only one’s playing the sectarian card. The Dissident Republicans Saoradh at PBP’s Belfast City Hall Protest last night ! Ah well “Direct Rule” it is then Boys and Girls ?

  • NotNowJohnny

    This from the man who did much to weaken Trimble when he was the leader of Unionism.

  • Granni Trixie

    Don’t you have higher standards in your head than those of Adams? I know I have.