The SDLP’s position on a future Justice Ministry in the Assembly has always been influenced by our commitment to the Good Friday Agreement.
We believe the devolution of justice and policing powers are necessary now to consummate the agreement.
On this occasion under the rules, the allocation of an 11th ministry should go to the SDLP.
The SDLP would have no problem supporting another party if it were their right and not ours.
However, we are not prepared to watch the DUP and Sinn Fein redraw the lines in an act of political gerrymandering and discrimination against the SDLP.
By insisting the appointment of a Justice Minister must ‘now and at all times in the future’ be made on the basis of a cross-community vote in the Assembly, Sinn Fein have effectively handed the DUP yet another veto.
When SF’s Raymond McCartney stated that ‘the Good Friday Agreement was 10 years ago and it was time to move on,’ he let the cat of the DUP bag.
While his party’s plan will be used to prevent the SDLP from taking the ministry now, there is no doubt it will be used against Sinn Fein in the future. If this has escaped Sinn Fein then they are guilty of incompetence.
However, it is more serious if they are aware of this, for then they are guilty of collusion with the DUP in conniving to ensure that ‘no nationalist need apply’ for the post of Justice Minister.
SDLP Justice Spokesperson