And so the focus shifts…

And we’re back in Belfast with the main parties and their negotiations. The final deadline is Thursday, but substantial agreement is expected today. The DUP have obtained a deal that is extremely good for infrastructure, bringing things into the possible that were recently all but pipe dreams, although you may excuse my cynicism that the money made available for health is tinkering at the edges (will it be yet another “if you’re going to do this damn silly thing, don’t do it … Read more

If Gerry *now* thinks Arlene is ‘innocent’ what’s blocking the formation of an Executive?

So one week till the deadline closes on the formation of the next Executive, or rather the appointment of a new First Minister and deputy First Minister. A new Executive (and that piece of comedic fiction, the Programme For Government) is another piece of work on top of that. Gerry Adams said at the weekend there was no reason to doubt Arlene Foster’s innocence in relation to RHI: which may  or may not be a concession ahead of a final … Read more

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

SINN FEIN will table an amendment to tomorrow morning’s motion of no confidence requiring the First Minister only to step aside while a four week preliminary report is produced, but expanding the remit of the inquiry to cover special advisers and civil servants. They threaten grave consequences if the DUP disregard the joint authority of the Executive Office.

State of the State Report praises the creation of opposition and has concerns about Brexit

Around this time of year Deloitte release their State of the State report which reviews the performance of the UK government and the devolved administrations. You can read the full report here, but here I wanted to highlight the reports analysis of recent developments in Northern Ireland. The report last year was critical of the stop/start nature of policy making within the Executive and the political impasse that had engulfed Stormont over welfare reform. This year however, the report is … Read more

So yesterday was the “New Stormont” Government’s day in the sun…

So, if Mike Nesbitt and Colum Eastwood had their days in the sun over the previous two weeks, yesterday was the government parties’ turn. Alan has already covered some of the (in my view, necessary) acts of generosity between the two parties. As I argued with Gerry Kelly during the back end of Radio Ulster’s election coverage two parties in coalition is infinitely easier to manage than five (methinks Gerry protested too much at the time). In Health Sinn Fein … Read more

The Executive goes on the road….to Arlene and Martin’s hometowns.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: It was announced today that the new Executive is set to go on the road for the first time and meet outside of Belfast. First up on the Executive’s road show is Fermanagh (home of the First Minister) and Derry (home of the Deputy First Minister).
These type of things happen in the UK, where the cabinet takes trips outside of London to see the other regions of the UK, yet I am not totally sure what is really achieved by doing this.

[Cartoon] #BackToTheExecutiveDay

October 21 2015 was ‘Back To The Future Day‘, the date in ‘Back To The Future II’ that Marty McFly travelled forward to in order to save his children. That date was also the day when Peter Robinson travelled back to Stormont to save the power sharing executive. A nice historical coincidence. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Nesbitt: “This is not about wrecking things or pulling things down.”

The UUP Executive met in the Park Ave Hotel in East Belfast to formally decide whether to pull out of the Northern Ireland Executive. Around 90 delegates debated the issue for over an hour and unanimously voted to leave. The sole UUP minister, Danny Kennedy will tender his resignation on Tuesday and Mike Nesbitt will refuse to nominate a successor. The post will then fall to the DUP to fill the vacancy. For such an important decision there was a … Read more

#DUPshuffle …the new ministerial line up

The departure of Jim Wells as Health Minister has given the First Minister an opportunity to conduct a more wide ranging reshuffle of the DUP ministers in the Executive: Department of Finance: Arlene Foster Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment: Jonathan Bell Department of Health: Simon Hamilton Department of Social Development: Mervyn Storey Junior Minister in OFM/DFM: Michelle McIlveen Fun Fact: The departure of Jim Wells and the addition of Michelle McIlveen has seen the average age of the DUP … Read more

A re-energised John McCallister on expenses, his Assembly and Executive Reform Bill, and the role of independents

John McCallister may be ex-UUP and ex-NI21, but he’s not planning to be ex-politics. I spoke to the South Down independent unionist late last week. He’s rebuilding his profile and perhaps also his reputation after been seen as the person who pulled the plug on NI21 a day or two before the May 2014 elections. On top of “a fairly hefty workload of constituency work” he’s ploughing effort into a Private Members Bill to address Assembly and Executive Reform. After … Read more

Corporation Tax powers finally set to be devolved?

The Belfast Telegraph has a number of articles about the devolution of control over Corporation Tax: with a timeline here. From the Belfast Telegraph: Finance Minister Simon Hamilton said: “I am optimistic that we will get a positive answer from the Prime Minister. “I think that the Government wants to do this and we have made a very robust case to them.” A senior Tory source concurred with this assessment. However, the cost of cutting the tax is likely to … Read more

Robinson: PSNI must not be subjected to ‘bully boy’ tactics

This morning First Minister, Peter Robinson released this statement. The PSNI must not be the subject of republican bullyboy tactics. They must be completely free to follow any and all evidence regardless of where it takes them and to decide free of political considerations whether suspects will be charged or not. He continued; I warn Sinn Fein that they have crossed the line and should immediately cease this destructive behaviour. The inconsistency of the Deputy First Minister is clear for … Read more

Fees gap to be paid by GB students…?

THE decision to freeze student fees here seems to be going down well, but it won’t come without cost. And that cost – half of it – will be borne by the Department of Employment and Learning. It would be difficult to argue that learning should come at the expense of employment services in the middle of a recession when the jobless total is almost twice what the department is budgeted to deal with. As the Minister said in June, … Read more

Tom Elliott can he lead?

Tom Elliot became a surprising story of the election with his outburst in Omagh and he is destined to be at the centre of things throughout the coming days. With his party achieving 16 seats and Alliance 8 as things stand the UUP will lose a ministry. That is unless he can tempt party reject David McClarty back into the fold. Though as Mark Devenport notes the Alliance party could then try to cook up a counter deal with Steven … Read more

Futuring: d’Hondt and the new Executive

As the outcome of the Assembly election firms up throughout the day thoughts will be drawn to d’Hondt and the eventual make up of a future Executive. Forget about a paper and pen, use this handy d’Hondt calculator to play with numbers. Mark McGregorBlogging at: http://heartsofoakandsteel.wordpress.com http://heartsofoakandsteel.wordpress.com

Fantasy D’Hondt

Northern Ireland Executive logo

Time to play an early game of Fantasy NI Executive, or maybe more properly, Fantasy D’Hondt. The order in which parties select ministries is determined by the size of the parties. When the full D’Hondt process was last run on 8 May 2007, there were still only ten ministries. The DUP was the largest party with 36 elected MLAs, followed by SF (28), UUP (18) and then SDLP (16). The parties selected ministries in the following order. DUP – Finance … Read more