Peter Robinson was talking about much more than a border poll. The Assembly must become boycott proof

It was Peter Robinson “pulling the pin out of the grenade” and proposing  “generational” border polls that attracted most attention. But he had a good deal more to say at Queen’s that was  more important or at least more urgent.  He kept it lofty, generalised and above all brief, to avoid getting drawn into detail or appearing to lecture his successors. But his meaning is pretty clear . While he had to say he was optimistic about the future, he …

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Time to affirm the equality of the offices of First and deputy First Minister?

‘Only the DUP stands in the way of a Sinn Féin First Minister’ exclaims a Democratic Unionist leaflet regarding the forthcoming Assembly election. It comes complete with a bar graph that shows a small 5 percentage margin between the two parties. At first glance one would think that it referred to the number of seats each party holds – which of course shows a much wider gap of 10 seats. This is of course crude dog-whistle politics. And it works. Last …

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No reason why the Assembly cannot hire in talent if the parties cannot form a workable Executive

As Soapbox recently suggested (20 January), “There is no reason for the Assembly to not be operational, just because the Executive cannot function.” Soapbox was suggesting that “direct rule ministers should be held accountable by a working Assembly.” However, there is another option, which is for the Assembly to appoint non-parliamentary ministers. There is no reason why the Assembly cannot hire in talent if the parties cannot form a workable Executive from their own numbers. And if there becomes any …

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Martin McGuinness: “We now wait to see if SDLP will stand by the principles of the Good Friday Agreement or follow the UUP into opposition…”

The response of Sinn Féin’s new MLA for Foyle, Martin McGuinness, to being upstaged – at the moment of his re-appointment as Northern Ireland deputy First Minister – by the UUP leader Mike Nesbitt’s announcement that his party had unanimously agreed to go into official opposition in the NI Assembly, betrayed a confused, or forgetful, party lashing out at sceptics, and potential sceptics, alike.  [Nobody puts Baby in the corner… – Ed] From the Sinn Féin press release [added emphasis throughout] Speaking after …

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