Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Uneasy Alliance?

What precisely is going on within the Alliance party? During the Hillsborough negotiations David Ford hit out at anyone who wouldn’t prostrate themselves before the policing and justice juggernaut.

The expectation seemed to be that all parties were duty bound to accept, sight unseen, any deal which the DUP and Sinn Féin might strike, in case the glorious non-sectarian prospect of an Alliance Minister of Justice became imperilled.

A few days later and David Ford is rather less adamant.

In fact, at a meeting of party leaders this morning I believe that it has become apparent that a vote of his party council is now being sought, in order to endorse any acceptance of the justice portfolio. Naomi Long first mooted the possibility on Good Morning Ulster and it appears that Ford has succumbed to pressure. We can surmise that Long is unhappy with the prospect of her party effectively approving the programme for government unto which the new justice measures will be grafted.

If the East Belfast MLA is pursuing a different approach to her leader, emphasising her party’s opposition to a programme for government which dropped shared future, then she is taking a more consistent line.

Both the UUP and the SDLP are opposed to gerrymandering the Executive in order to create an Alliance minister. The parties want d’Hondt to operate.


Anonymous said...

So just to be clear you are comfortable with an SF Justice Minister. This from a supporter of the party whose leader was openly lambasting the idea of a non-Unionist i.e. Alliance Justice Minister a matter of weeks ago?

Chekov said...

A SF Justice Minister isn't on the cards. The DUP and SF have agreed not to nominate.

Anonymous said...

If you run D'Hondt as per UUP suggestions, you have to run it in full. That is what the UUP position is.

Aside from that even if you don't and simply allocate the ministry to the next party, perhaps you could tell me where exactly the logic is in denouncing the prospect of an Alliance minister on the basis of them being "non-Unionist", whilst a matter of days later enthusiastically embracing the idea of an SDLP nominee for the post?

Furthermore, you must be completely out of your head if you think Alban Maguinness could command widespread community confidence. This is a guy who regularly tries to out-green the Shinners on Parades!! Wise up.

Chekov said...

Can you tell me anon, where I denounced the prospect of an Alliance ministry on the basis of them being 'non-unionist'? My objection is that Alliance don't have a sufficient electoral mandate to be part of the Executive. D'Hondt would operate and the DUP / SF agreement not to take the ministry would still hold.

Alan in Belfast said...

> ... a vote of his party council is now being sought

At the time of the Alliance conference, it was clear that the party had already run internal conversations about an Alliance Justice Minister (ie, Ford) and had their ducks in a row so that it would only require a swift formal decision to ratify their already well-rehearsed position.

Perhaps politics has moved on, and with the SDLP's latest step to actually propose an SDLP candidate the Alliance exec are now needing time to reconsider.

Anonymous said...

The party you have acted as a permanent cheerleader for on this website is led by a man who denounced the idea of an Alliance Minister because APNI were non-Unionist. Don't play the "where did I say it?" game with me.

Chekov said...

Lol. Don't play the game with who? You haven't even identified yourself. If you want to argue the toss with Reg Empey about what he has or hasn't said then write him an email, otherwise back up an allegation about what I've said if you want to continue this debate.

Anonymous said...

Back to your usual tactic. Don't like the direction of the debate so demand to know identities, which as a prolific blogger (Orwell Prize nominee, no less) you know to be fairly poor form.

Chekov said...

I'll tell you what is bad form:

"Don't play the "where did I say it?" game with me."

This type of thing when you don't even have the balls to give a name.

You made a direct inference that I'd objected to a non-unionist minister when in actual fact I'd done no such thing.

That's the thing about anonymity - absolutely no responsibility for what you write whatsoever.

Michael Bower said...


Constitutionally it is the Alliance Party Council that has to ratify any decision to take a Ministerial post. It is also a constitutional requirement that 14 days notice be given to delegates of an extraordinary Party Council meeting. Given recent events and the potential fast pace of proceedings it makes sense that a meeting be called in anticipation of movement on the issue.

However, there may be no such proposition put to Party Council on the 24 February. Alliance have been clear that there must be: 1) movement on a shared future strategy, namely the CSI report and 2) a broad level of agreement on the policy programme that a potential Minister for Justice can implement once appointed, before Alliance will consider putting a candidate forward for the post. This meeting could be used to update party members on the current situation.

Also Alliance called upon the UUP and SDLP to play a constructive role in the negotiation of the Hillsborough Agreement. Alliance hasn’t said that they are duty bound to back it. Unfortunately the SDLP and especially the UUP were more concerned with whinging and moaning rather than playing a constructive role throughout negotiation period. Whilst there may be agreement over the nature of the ministerial post and the process of appointment, there are issues outside of that that Alliance require movement on before considering nominating for the post.

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