A SOLUTION FOR NORTHERN IRELAND
I predicted this 4 years ago. So the fundamentalist Democratic Unionist Party topped out at the polls [free registration required] for the regional Assembly, and don’t want to go into government with Sinn Fein, the Irish republican party, because the IRA hasn’t disbanded yet. (Never mind that neither have the Protestant Loyalists, who are still attacking people and have never really been on ceasefire.)
A Way Out of the Quagmire
- Get the 6 Alliance party assemblymembers to register as unionists just for Assembly purposes, boosting the unionist side of the aisle to 63 seats.
- When Rev. Dr. Ian Paisley and crew refuse to go into the government (they’re against the whole Good Friday Agreement and want all-new negotiations), it will fall to the No. 2 unionist party, First Minister David Trimble’s Ulster Unionists, to attempt to form a government in coalition with the Alliance MLAs. With 33 seats between them, they’ll have a majority of the unionist MLAs once again. (This is why they shouldn’t move too quickly to replace Trimble as partly leader.)
- Then Trimble adds the No. 1 nationalist party, Sinn Fein, to the cross-community cabinet, sealing the deal!
Get majority support from both communities to retain the current (suspended) administration led by Trimble and SDLP nationalist Second Minister Mark Durkan, as a “minority” government, and see how it goes. Obviously this also needs Alliance support on the unionist side, as well as Sinn Fein “taking one step back to take two steps forward” and letting SDLP remain in the Second Minister’s Office. How about more Ministers in the Cabinet for both SF and Alliance in such an event!
Option 3: The Welsh Solution
i.e., apportion out the Ministries, and go with ‘rolling’ majorities in the Assembly, instead of one permanent set-up for the next 4 years. This is done in the Welsh Assembly and Executive, and things apparently haven’t sunk into the mud there….