Quick reaction to Peter's speech on devolution

Peter Robinson’s speech has been received by many political commentators as evidence that the Northern Ireland Executive isn’t working. And the growing list of 'Things -to-do' on the Executive agenda would probably bear this out.

'Oor Peter' had apparently been invited to make the speech as First Minister at the Evolve NI event in the Ulster Hall (who says i would not give John Hart a plug) but delivered it at the last minute as leader of the DUP. The original speech that he was to have given and that had been agreed by the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was dumped in favour of the 'new and improved version'.

The reaction from Martin McGuinness could have been easily predicted as he accused Peter of indecisive leadership - going so far as to say that he believed the First Minister had returned from his Florida holiday suffering from sunstroke and that he had spent "too much time at Disneyland".

Clearly the DUP would like to see a removal of the unionist and nationalist vetoes and the requirement to have cross community support for certain votes in the in the Assembly. Sinn Féin understandably feels that if this were to happen, the other political parties would ‘gang up’ on it and push through decisions that would be unpalatable to its constituency. However, this is all academic as any changes to the current arrangements would need Sinn Féin to agree to these changes in the first place.

Most commentators agree that the DUP is feeling the heat from former MEP Jim Allister’s Traditionalist Unionist Voice. The TUV, which rejects the power sharing arrangements, performed well in the recent the Euro elections, at the expense of the DUP. Though, i think the Alliance Party may not be that unwelcoming to this new direction as many important votes that have required cross community voting essentially made 'other' designation parties (The Alliance Party) an irrelevance.

I think the speech, while interesting in its own way and obviously along a party political line, was not the speech that Peter should have gone with - it was more a party conference speech. Its delivery at the Evolve NI event will raise questions, as to who actually made the speech, the First Minister or the Leader of the DUP? Did he travel there as the First Minister? How will the two 'Heid Yins' now trust each other to deliver agreed speeches?

Interesting days ahead.



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