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.