Sinn Féin to table amendment calling for Foster to step aside for 4 weeks & expand scope of judicial inquiry

A statement by Sinn Féin this evening together with a proposed amendment shine some light on the approach that the second largest party in the Assembly will take on Monday morning’s session.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness “calls on the First Minister to stand aside until this independent investigation brings forward a preliminary report“. [emphasis added]

In addition be cautioned that “the statement which Arlene Foster plans to make to the Assembly tomorrow does not have my authority or approval as deputy First Minister”.

We have told the DUP this. If she speaks this will be in a personal capacity and not in her role as First Minister. There is no credibility in an inquiry established solely by the DUP or in the selective release of some documents by DUP departments.

McGuinness added:

“If the DUP does take a unilateral approach, disregarding the authority and joint nature of the Executive Office on an issue which is cross-cutting, with massive budgetary implications and which is undermining public confidence in the political institutions this will have grave consequences.

The wording of the amendment – which Conor Murphy suggested on Sunday Politics might be difficult to produce – has also been released. Rather than a tight focus on the First Minister and her role in the RHI scheme, it expands out to look at the role of Ministers, Special Advisors, civil servants, and only calls on Arlene Foster to step aside as First Minister for four weeks while the preliminary report is produced.

That this Assembly recognises the mounting public concern, relating to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme and the serious allegations of incompetence, corruption and abuse.

Calls on the First Minister to stand aside in order to facilitate an independent, time-framed, robust and transparent investigation and until a preliminary report is presented.

This investigation would be undertaken by an independent judicial figure from outside this jurisdiction and be appointed by the Attorney General.

This investigation must establish how the RHI was developed in strategic policy and legislative terms, including its primary purpose and objectives; how the scheme’s operational roll-out was agreed, administered and implemented in order to match these objectives; and thereafter where overall accountability and compliance for the RHI scheme rested in both policy and financial accountability terms – and were these achieved in the view of the Independent Investigator.

Investigate the motives and actions of Ministers, Special Advisors, Civil Servants, and any others involved in either the strategic policy and operational delivery making processes of the RHI scheme and whether this was done so ethically, within the law, in compliance with the standards established in the Ministerial Code of conduct and principles of public life, and conditions of employment for Special Advisors.

Establish whether any individual (including Ministers, Civil servants, special advisors, others), acted knowingly where a conflict of interest existed, and/or intentionally and dishonestly to make a gain from the administration of the RHI scheme, or to aid others in doing so.

Examine and report on the manner in which the disclosure of whistle-blowers or any individuals who alleged possible wrongdoing about the RHI scheme were tested and responded to by the relevant authorities.

Investigate all applications, including those which successfully benefited from the RHI scheme, and determine in each case whether the Department has a legal basis to pursue and recover any payment made; withhold partial payment yet to be made; establish cases for referral to the law enforcement agencies to consider prosecution where there is adequate corroborative evidence.

On its completion the outcome of the investigation will be made public and will not require agreement of the First and Deputy First Ministers or the Attorney General. A preliminary report will be published within 4 weeks of its establishment. The full report and its outcomes will be made public within 3 months from that date.

Do the DUP have confidence in their position and will they swallow a four week hiatus in light of this Sinn Féin amendment? Or will they rely on their size and ability to block the cross-community vote and hope that the threatened grave consequences do not come to pass?

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  • Sergiogiorgio

    There’s now more than a whiff of blood in the air, there’s a carcass hanging on a butchers hook. Tomorrow could be explosive. Loving it!! ????

  • Brendan Heading

    SF have omitted an important detail from the press release concerning their amendment – they have left out exactly what part of the original motion they are deleting.

    I suspect they are deleting the entire original motion, which means that they are taking a softer approach; a non-binding call for Foster to “step aside” (similarly to how Peter Robinson temporarily stepped aside while his wife’s financial dealings were investigated back in 2010) rather than invoking the formal exclusion processes codified in Section 30 of the Northern Ireland Act.

    A crucial consequence of the Sinn Féin amendment, in proposing something softer than formal exclusion, is that the Section 30 requirement of cross-community support would no longer be required. As a regular, non-binding motion, the DUP would have to submit a Petition of Concern in order to veto it.

    I suspect SF’s amendment is motivated, in part, by a desire to try to find a way for Foster to temporarily step aside in a face-saving way. Of course the other part of SF’s desire is to outflank the SDLP and the other opposition parties by proposing an amendment which they will claim goes further than the exclusion motion by insisting upon a proper independent inquiry.

    For this to work, the DUP would have to avoid raising a petition of concern. They could still vote against the amended motion, but if it passes, they would have to follow through with Foster temporarily stepping aside. The political problem for the DUP is that this looks very much like dancing to SF’s tune, something they have an overriding concern about avoiding.

    If this doesn’t happen, SF’s language this evening makes it clear that they will have to resign, which will lead to an automatic assembly election under the existing legislation. The DUP may well say “make my day” to SF, as it is SF who are facing serious electoral pressure over the perceived closeness of their relationship with the DUP from the SDLP and PBP.

  • mickfealty

    I wouldn’t jump to conclusions, because the specific detail will be furnished to the Speaker’s Office. Point is they want to have judge led inquiry with these ToRs? It will take for ever, not four weeks.

    Then three months to check 2000 applications?

    They are trying to show they are standing up to the DUP. But what are these grave consequences? What are they going to do? Call a new election? It’s a massive over reach.

    Not least because Arlene and the DUP have already said they are going to do most of what they propose anyway. The precedence is the sports minister going to the Cabinet Office to look at her handling of Casement Park.

    It’s an attempt to occlude the opposition. And it will ramp up the crisis. A petition of concern will kill it.

  • Superfluous

    I guess it’s good for democracy – as in the DUP will be looking for revenge, and now their coalition partner has forced itself to behave itself, lest they give the DUP an angle to ever hit back.

  • Brendan Heading

    I wouldn’t jump to conclusions, because the specific detail will be furnished to the Speaker’s Office.

    I’m not jumping to any conclusions but it seems fairly clear from SF’s approach that the plan is to remove the formal exclusion requirement and replace it with something softer in order to increase the chance of getting the DUP on board.

    Point is they want to have judge led inquiry with these ToRs? It will take for ever, not four weeks.

    Then three months to check 2000 applications?

    No Mick, because the remit of any inquiry (as far as I would understand it) is to establish the facts concerning how the RHI scheme was implemented and to get to the bottom of why the scheme was set up with no cap; at what point officials realised that the budget would blow; and whether or not there were any ministerial interventions that led to the problem being avoidably worse than it was. It isn’t necessary to process each application to establish any of this.

    They are trying to show they are standing up to the DUP.

    SF have no choice other than to stand up to the DUP. This is not a “split the difference” issue; there is huge public concern and SF cannot afford to be seen to be soft-peddling yet another issue to try to appease the DUP.

    But what are these grave consequences? What are they going to do? Call a new election? It’s a massive over reach.

    There are only two alternatives. These are to compel the DUP to agree to an inquiry; somehow; or to resign from the government. Neither of these are an overreach; there is no wriggle room.

    A situation where there is no serious inquiry and where there are no serious consequences associated with a scandal of this kind is untenable, and wouldn’t be tolerated by SF’s own voters in the context of an administration where SF give the impression of being constantly on the back foot.

    Not least because Arlene and the DUP have already said they are going to do most of what they propose anyway.

    No. The DUP have not committed to an independent inquiry, much less a judicially led one, which is what SF are calling for in their amendment.

    The precedence is the sports minister going to the Cabinet Office to look at her handling of Casement Park.

    The scale of the RHI crisis renders this comparison moot, IMHO.

    It’s an attempt to occlude the opposition. And it will ramp up the crisis. A petition of concern will kill it.

    Yes, I argued above that this is an attempt to outflank the opposition. That aside, I am not sure that SF had any other choice. Acquiescing to a DUP whitewash is simply not an option.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    If SF grew a set and take the Assembly down with new elections. The number of MLAs would reduce from 108 to 90. Any Anoraks out there make any predictions on the returns ? Could also nullify the Petition of Concern Nonsense, You need 30 MLAs to be able to use the POC ?

  • Brendan Heading

    All very interesting points, and no doubt weighing on the minds of both the DUP and SF in considering whether or not they want to risk an election.

  • Madra Uisce

    Sadly the outcome of an election will see the same extremists back on the hill. Such is the level of sectarianism in this backwater that stopping themmuns will take precedence over kicking out the chancers who have just cost the tax payer £400 million.

  • ted hagan

    Sounds like smoke and mirrors to me with an attempt by SF to appease its angry supporters. A full judicial inquiry is needed to get to the bottom of this scandal but Foster should stay in place. It is not solely her whose conduct that is being challenged but the whole of the DUP, and dear knows whoever else.

  • Brendan,

    Read the text of their proposed ‘amendment’ for its ‘remit’.

    Either in the original post, or here.

  • Declan Doyle

    Sinn Fein have bade their time and now we see why. Excellent move covering all angles; naughty Arlene and the opposition. Mortifying stuff for the DUP.

  • Brendan Heading

    Pete,

    I stand corrected, I see SF are indeed proposing that all applications are examined. Agreed that this would take months rather than than weeks.

  • Lionel Hutz

    If the opposition parties are smart they will vote against this amendment. Then it only passes if the DUP support it. If the DUP support it then it looks like SF and DUP coming together to save their own skin. If the DUP vote against it then SF”s bluff has been called. And they have to support the orifinal motion.

    SF have backed themselves into a corner on this one

  • mjh

    However that part of the motion is concerned solely with establishing whether any previous or future spending is recoverable. There is no reason why this would need to be considered in the preliminary report and therefore would not be a practical obstacle to completing it in a timely manner.

  • Declan Doyle

    I think you mean Dog Water

  • wild turkey

    Lionel

    we may have disagreed in the past, but the clarity of your argument puts you in the Goombah Himalayas. it’s a nice place. good luck

  • Declan Doyle

    The point is SF are doing to things at once. Putting it up to the DUP whilst at the same time keeping clear. Is fearr rith maith ná drochsheasamh

  • Brendan Heading

    Lionel,

    I am not sure on what basis the opposition parties can oppose the SF amendment given that it proposes both that Foster step aside and suggests a fully independent inquiry.

    Rejecting the amendment means accepting nothing less than Foster’s formal exclusion, and discarding the SF proposal for an independent inquiry. It then starts to look like politicking rather than an earnest attempt to address the problem and protect the institutions.

  • Brendan Heading

    I’ll leave it as an exercise for the readers at home to speculate if SF would have done any of this had the exclusion motion not been tabled by the opposition parties in the first instance.

  • Lionel Hutz

    The view is good. Haha

  • Redstar

    The SF motion is a long long way short of a proper public inquiry. When you look at how it would actually operate it looks like a right old watered down sham—

    “However, the party stopped short of calling for a full public inquiry overseen by a judge. That means that the inquiry envisaged by Sinn Fein is likely to sit behind closed doors and may not have powers to compel witnesses and documentation”

  • Declan Doyle

    Sure it SF had called for a public enquiry led by the pope and overseen by the UN high commissioner for human rights with the worlds top judges in place, u would still have a problem with it.

  • Brendan Heading

    This was true yesterday, but the SF press release from today says :

    This investigation would be undertaken by an independent judicial figure from outside this jurisdiction and be appointed by the Attorney General.

  • SDLP supporter

    And the independent person being lined up to pick someone to conduct the inquiry is none other than (drum roll) our esteemed Attorney General, John Larkin! Nuff said!

  • Redstar

    Thanks Brendan, hadn’t realised that

  • eireanne3

    examining all applications would not take months if enough people were working on them-
    Remember your maths?
    If it takes 4 men 3 months to examine X applications, how long would it take 24 or 44 men to examine the same number of applications?

  • NotNowJohnny

    Why do you think that the minister who introduced a hugely flawed scheme with a potential cost running into the hundreds of millions should stay in place? What magnitude of a debacle would it take before you would call for a minister to resign?

  • AntrimGael

    I get the impression that Sinn Fein and the DUP may have come to some agreement on this because it doesn’t suit either of them for Stormont to collapse. Up to now Sinn Fein have been a shadow in the background afraid to say boo to a goose. Where all of a sudden has the bravado come from? I think something has been choreographed where Arlene may stand aside for a short period or some form of words has been agreed where she will forego First Minister duties for 4 – 6 weeks which takes us over the Christmas/New Year period where nothing really happens and hence it suits both parties agendas. If I am wrong I will be the first to say well done to Sinn Fein if they stick to principles BUT hey we know the Shinners recent record on these. As Groucho Marx famously said “Here are my principles and if you don’t like them…….here are some more”. This could be Sinn Fein’s motto in 2016.

  • Brian Walker

    Sinn Fein’s amendment makes it clear that the RHI scheme never went to the Executive committee for approval – itself a pretty serious oversight which has now blown up in the DUP’s face. If Mrs Foster is able to refute that, SF will be left with egg on their faces. It seems unlikely, otherwise she would have said so already.

    However might Sinn Fein be persuaded to withdraw their amendment if Mrs Foster gives a detailed and convincing account of the whole RHI narrative from the start to the present? After all the “grave consequences”, meaning presumably SF resignation and a full-blown crisis, are obviously disproportionate. But she would need to adopt a much more conciliatory tone, offer a genuine apology accepting blame without diverting it to everywhere else and humbly ask the whole House to accept it. She really needs to learn a different style for leadership. More arrogant and sneering defiance would be fatal to her immediate cause.

    If she is unable to carry all or most of the other parties with her on such a non- sectarian matter her moral authority is seriously compromised. Using a petition of concern would violate the joint pledge in Fresh Start and would be likely to provoke the very crisis it sought to prevent.

    Otherwise I believe the draft SF amendment is broadly reasonable and puts the ball in the DUP’s court in a way they can play it. Peter Robinson created the precedent of a temporary standing down without serious damage to the Executive.

    Apart from the question of veracity which only an inquiry can answer, the weakness in Mrs Foster’s position is that Ministerial responsibility applies even if she got poor advice. Mitigation may be justified but the inquiry would have to find it. She cannot reasonably claim if for herself.

    The option of using DUP muscle to maintain her position uncritically violates constitutional norms for coalitions and power sharing. In fact the lesson of the whole affair is that power sharing properly applied could have prevented this impasse.

    Proper terms for an inquiry have hardly been reached and fresh drafting advice is needed fast, unless the debate is adjourned. I’m no expert but I doubt if the Attorney General can convene such an inquiry. Otherwise Brendan’s analysis reads pretty well. The issue of going through all the applications might be recommended by the inquiry but clearly is a separate process which is not crucial to the issue of confidence in the FM.

  • Croiteir

    Its better buying time to do damn all when te nquiry collapses in a years time and we will have “all moved on”

  • AntrimGael

    As an aside I didn’t think Martin McGuinness looked too well in that press conference and seems to have lost some weight. I hope he gets over his ill health and wish him well.

  • notimetoshine

    I wonder have SF left it too late in responding to this. From a purely political point of view they need to get in front of this and be seen to be leading the charge, especially since the opposition parties have been front and centre over the whole mess so far.

    Tricky for them, as they are the only other partner sharing this government, it would seem to be a fine balancing act between avoiding being g tarred with the same brush and jeopardising the government they help run.

    Personally though, if only one thing comes out of all this mess, I hope it is the development of one government run in partnership rather than almost two governments run by two separate parties. Had there been something close to a cabinet in Stormont, along with a tangible sense of a united coalition government, I wonder would the RHI mess have gotten as far as it did?

  • On the fence!

    “But she would need to adopt a much more conciliatory tone, offer a
    genuine apology accepting blame without diverting it to everywhere else
    and humbly ask the whole House to accept it.”

    Bear in mind that a week ago she wouldn’t even discuss the RHI issue.

    By Thursday evening she was practically batein’ down the BBC’s doors to get discussing it with Nolan.

    Change is plainly possible when there’s a huge cauldron of shit swinging over your head!

  • “However might Sinn Fein be persuaded to withdraw their amendment if Mrs Foster gives a detailed and convincing account of the whole RHI narrative from the start to the present?”

    Except, Brian, that Sinn Féin have closed off that avenue by declaring that the statement that the DUP intended to give would lack Martin McGuinness’ approval and authority.

    Whatever that’s worth…

  • Eliminating the 6th and last seat won in each constituency gives us 33 DUP, 23 Sinn Féin, 15 UUP, 7 Alliance, 7 SDLP, 2 Green, 1 PBP, 1 TUV and Sugden. Not exactly the most scientific approach, but it’s an indication anyway.

    It’s also worth mentioning, however, that May’s result could be a bit of date with current affairs. I’m curious to know what the current state play is in the west and north of Belfast regarding PBP, whilst DUP voters with a sneaking regard for Jim Allister could make the switch to the TUV in the likes of South Antrim and East Antrim in light of the RHI scandal. Overdosing on speculation here, but interesting nonetheless.

  • Brendan Heading

    Remember your maths?

    As the great Fred Brooks observed, just because it takes one woman nine months to give birth to a baby, does not mean that nine women can give birth to one baby in one month.

  • eireanne3

    we weren’t talking about giving birth – but checking applications – forms, buildings, boilers and so on.
    Should be possible with a big enough staff (but who’s going to pay for them?).

    That’s the real problem

  • Brendan Heading

    Sinn Fein’s amendment makes it clear that the RHI scheme never went to the Executive committee for approval

    I’m not sure I’m seeing this claim in SF’s statement Brian; indeed SF have studiously avoided commenting on the background detail of the controversy (other than the committee hearing highlighted by Kris Nixon where the Finance Minister pointedly accused a DUP committee member of wrecking public finances).

    Even if they did claim it, it wouldn’t really stack up; the executive has oversight over most things ministers do (collective government) and, if I recall correctly, the secondary legislation activating the scheme had to be passed by the assembly. I’m sure it was waved through at the time, just as it was waved through committee without any attempt to probe the details at all. People just assumed the Minister and the departmental officials had done the work. Ordinarily that would be a fairly safe assumption.

    After all the “grave consequences”, meaning presumably SF resignation and a full-blown crisis, are obviously disproportionate.

    I’ve seen several people argue this, but I’m not sure what the basis for it is. This is the single largest misallocation of public funding in the history of devolution in any part of the UK. In any regular government a misspend anywhere near this big would lead to resignations. How could the public be persuaded that nobody was responsible for this and that nobody will face consequences ?

    If we are to have a functioning democracy, it has to become clear to political parties that consequences will arise from incompetence, to ensure that ministers and parties are properly incentivised to prevent this kind of thing from occurring again.

    She really needs to learn a different style for leadership. More arrogant and sneering defiance would be fatal to her immediate cause.

    There I definitely agree; the DUP have made no effort to build a mutually respectful partnership with SF, and this means that SF are unwilling to spend any political capital to try to ease the DUP out of a tight spot. I think with their approach this evening SF are stretching as far as they can; they’re trying to push the assembly away from voting for exclusion while making it clear that the DUP cannot avoid an independent inquiry.

  • Brendan Heading

    Pete,

    The order paper says that a “ministerial statement” is being made on the behalf of the “executive office”.

    SF are making it clear that they haven’t approved anything that Foster is going to say, which means that Foster is not authorised to speak either as First Minister, or on behalf of the Executive Office, or indeed on behalf of the Executive, as presumably the Executive has not yet agreed policy on this matter.

    This is quite serious as it suggests that the DUP have ploughed ahead and attempted to formulate government policy, which they have no right to do without SF’s involvement. SF have every right to make this clear, as would the DUP if the dFM attempted to do the same thing. Foster is not some sort of Prime Minister, even though she might like to think that she is.

    By right it should actually be Simon Hamilton who is making the statement; and he should be doing so having secured the approval of the Executive.

  • Brendan Heading

    Just pointing out that problems like this do not necessarily scale linearly

  • 1729torus

    Alliance will probably keep their seat in North Down since they ran two candidates, one of which barely made it.

    PBP will likely suffer for supporting hard Brexit by abstaining on the vote, whilst Alliance and Greens will get a boost.

    UUP’s Robin Swann only came ahead of a Shinner in North Antrim, so he could be vulnerable.

    The total non-nationalist delegation, Alliance + Greens + Unionist is 66 seats (PBP are de facto CNR). In the next election there will only be 55 seats up for grabs. Of the 11 losses, at most 2 will hit non-DUP parties, so that’s 29 seats for the DUP next time. If Jonathon Bell hangs on (defect to TUV?) that’s 28. UUP do well, that’s 26 seats.

    TUV don’t strike me as being competitive outside of Antrim, so they won’t gain seats outside of any possible DUP defections.

    29-26 DUP seats to 14-16 UUP seats isn’t exactly a colossus. Another consequence would be that the NI Assembly would look like Belfast City Council, without a formal Unionist majority.

  • Declan Doyle

    Excellent

  • Declan Doyle

    An exclusion motion was always going to come from somewhere over this mess so no doubt SF were ready and waiting.

  • Declan Doyle

    Ya and when the polar cap melts and a big flood comes and drowns us all in freezing cold water, and then when we get to higher ground a hurricane comes and blows us into the mountains and then we get buried by an avalanche and then the snow melts and we get washed down a river which has become a rapid cos of all the bad weather, and then we get hurled into a massive waterfall and bashed off the rocks and then when we do get washed up unconscious we get sun burnt and then ….

  • 1729torus

    SF should use this to weaken the office of FM. Maybe insist that Arlene be made the “Senior Joint First Minster”, and Martin the “Junior Joint First Minster” to emphasise that both offices are equal in terms of power.

  • Brian Walker

    Indeed I overstate .. The SF statement suggests they had no hand in RHI. Even if it was nodded through the Executive committee, they’re implicated in the original flawed decision. That may seem pedantic but it could turn out to be a useful point if both parties want to assert proper collective responsibility in order to continue this Executive. But I agree; this is looking trickier than either of the Peter Robinson standing asides. But there are still a few hours left to go….

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Now that is interesting – the DUP going down below the 30 MLA POC threshold !

  • Brian Walker

    Pete, It would still be open to them to withdraw the amendment.. Both sides now have to eat different humble pies. Foster would have to accept openly that her survival – not merely suspension- would be at stake as a result of the inquiry. . Even then the Assembly would have to decide, .with her promising that the DUP would not move a petition of concern. It would mean a DUP change of culture.But what’s the alternative? This is all very silly They should have stitched up a deal before hand and allowed the opposition parties to bounce off their defences. Both of them and the DUP in particular don’t seem to realise that they hang together more than ever.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Yip – I am sure there are a lot of “Yasser Hughes – Giz-a-Job” out there who would be interested in such employment ! How about the NI Homeless with no heat ? (Now there is an idea !)

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I am sure the Treasury at Westminster would be interested in solving that problem for you EA !

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “It would mean a DUP change of culture” No chance on that score ! I already know a few of the Dupers who have said – “New Elections, Bring it on !” “Queen Arlene will reign victorious !” Heart Breaking to say but they could be right !

  • mjh

    Just for fun I tried to “re-run” the 2016 counts in each constituency based on 5 seats instead of 6. It must be said that this is not a 100% scientific process. For example parties would not have run as many candidates (particularly the UUP) and transfers have to be estimated for candidates who did not transfer in the real election.

    With that caveat, the outcome I got was:

    DUP down from 38 to 32
    SF down from 26 to 21 or 22 (there is insufficient evidence to make any call for the fifth and final seat in Foyle)
    UUP down from 16 to 12
    SDLP down from 14 to 11
    Alliance unchanged on 8
    PBPA either unchanged on 2 or down to 1
    Green down from 2 to 1
    TUV unchanged on 1
    Ind Sugden unchanged on 1
    UKIP up 1 to 1 (not McNarry but Jordan in East Antrim)

  • 1729torus

    The really interesting thing would be nominal Unionists losing their majority. An assembly that is laissez faire about the Union would allow for salami tactics as Belfast shows. E.g. would nationalist councils around the border start trying to engage in bilateral relations with Dublin, as before?

  • mjh

    It certainly looks like the move that best fits both parties’ interests.

    I’m not sure it would have been necessary for them to have actually arranged the choreography. By now their mutual understanding looks so close that, like long-time dance partners, they instinctively match each others movements.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Good to hear from you mjh. I knew my little question and predictions/forecast would have interested you !

  • On the fence!

    “Senior” and “Junior” doesn’t say equal to me!

    Besides I doubt the shinners will want to try and equalise the two job descriptions when there’s the slightest sniff of an opportunity looming to bag the top job!

  • mjh

    Too right T.E. – these days everyone needs an anorak.

    Seasons best to you and yours.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Cheers mjh. Seasons greetings also and Clare Bailey promised to buy you and me a glass of red wine in South Belfast for predicting she would rump home in SB this year !

  • mickfealty

    Balls.

  • grumpy oul man

    Well nefore the last assembly elections MMG did say that if SF became the largest party he would move to make it a joint first minister post and no longer FMDFM.

  • babyface finlayson

    Would 30 still be the threshold?

  • ted hagan

    I would want resignation/resignations over the debacle but would want to know the truth where exactly the blame lay before reacting to hysteria. If Foster was to blame, then she should resign, but we don’t know yet for certain.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    BF – I don’t think they have thought about this and there is any legalisation on it within the Bill which reduced the number of MLAs but I would guess that the DUP would try to maintain the POC with a reduced number based on a pro rata basis from 108 to 90.

  • Brendan Heading

    There is no need; both offices are already equal in terms of power and SF have emphasised this a number of times recently.

  • billypilgrim1

    Surely there’s nothing magical about the number 30?

    30 in a 108-member assembly equates to 24 or 25 in a 90-member assembly.

  • Skibo

    Mike, surely the DUP would have set up an investigation into all the applications anyway. Could the internal inquiry run any faster?
    I would suggest only by not being thorough enough.

  • babyface finlayson

    billy I agree. I see there was a review not that long ago with recommendations including a reduction in that number.
    According to ‘the detail’ no action has been taken to follow up on those recommendations.
    http://www.thedetail.tv/articles/stormont-s-petition-of-concern-used-115-times-in-five-years

  • Skibo

    Mike the precedence cannot be the Casement Park handling. It had a defined budget and was not ( at this stage) cost anymore. The RHI was going to cost a further non-budgeted £400M. A substantial amount in anybodies eyes.
    Perhaps the SF amendment could have been directed more to the change of 6 months suspension and introduce the judge led investigation. Perhaps the opposition do not want this, as their MLAs must also had sight of the RHI before it was put into action. Why did they not raise the issue of an open-ended system?

  • file

    Why was the SF amendment not accepted today?

  • Fidellum

    I bet 4/24/44 women would do it more quickly.

  • Croiteir

    and then SF will still be propping up the DUP as the dreary steeples of Fermanagh etc