Assembly: A Few Thoughts

I am not really enthused about the Agreement that kick starts the Stormont Assembly after three years.

The Assembly was brought down three years ago because of the RHI Scandal and now it is back and there is still no publication of the report into the Scandal.

It is a negotion that DUP has won or more precisely Sinn Féin have lost. The farcical standing ovation for Mary Lou McDonald, Michelle O’Neill and Conor Murphy as they walked into a hall to explain the “deal” to Sinn Féin activists.

The “red line” of the Irish Language…well SF gave in. And in what SF say is a side deal between DUP and the British Government, there will be three more days when the British Fleg is flown. And there is the curious case of Alex Maskey as the new Speaker …with DUP support.

Carve up or Cross Community Co-Operation?

There are hopeful signs. I congratulate Christopher Stalford (DUP), a genuinely decent guy on his election to the Speaker “team” and of course Patsy McGlone (SDLP) the best kind of public representative. Its a disgrace that Patsy was not elected as Speaker.

So Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill are back as First Ministers. And to be fair, their speeches were generous and gracious.

The big problem now is the Civil Service. Steve Aiken (UUP leader) alluded to the civil servants in the public gallery. They have had three years running Norn Iron without any democratic accountability and there is now hopefully a looming battle between the the permenant civil service and the new ministers.

Will the civil servants control the ministers? Will the Ministers put some manners on the civil service? Will scores be settled?

There is …I think …support in the communities. People seem to want this Stormont thing to work. I am not convinced.

I write this and publish it as the Assembly takes a 30 minute adjournment so the new Speaker can take advice on the upcoming election of eight ministers.

The eight departments will be distributed on the following d’hondt basis.

Pick 1 : DUP (who also get Pick 3 and Pick 7)

Pick 2: Sinn Féin (who also get Pick 4 and Pick 8)

Pick 5: SDLP

Pick 6: UUP

So strictly speaking, the New Executive will have ministers from DUP (3), SF (3), SDLP (1) and UUP (1).

However the Justice ministry might go to Alliance on the gift of DUP-SF which would take a ministry from the SF allocation.

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