Monday 11 January 2010

Acting First Minister Arlene Foster

Northern Ireland Act, 1998, Article 16 (5):

The holder of the office of First Minister or deputy First Minister may by notice in writing to the Presiding Officer designate a Northern Ireland Minister to exercise the functions of that office—

(a) during any absence or incapacity of the holder; or
(b) during any vacancy in that office arising otherwise than under subsection (7)(a);

but a person shall not have power to act by virtue of paragraph (a) for a continuous period exceeding 6 weeks.

And so, this afternoon, the DUP has duly notified the Presiding Officer that Arlene Foster is to 'exercise the function' of FM in the place of Peter Robinson while he – or the DUP – try to decide where to go next.

Six weeks to stasis is thus guaranteed, and the transfer of policing and justice is delayed yet again. By the time Robinson returns – if he returns – the parties will be on a full election footing for the upcoming Westminster elections, and so a further period of stalemate is ensured.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sinn Féin basically have no other option than to resign from government, trigger an election and reap the landslide in their favour. The unionist vote might never have been this split, especially not with such a unified nationalist vote behind a single party.

If Sinn Féin let this drag on until after the Westminster election this window of opportunity may disappear.