Belfast Telegraph

DUP and SF made blocking tactics an art form

By Liam Clarke

The big two parties, Sinn Fein and the DUP, have a point when they attack the SDLP and UUP for not being team players and flouting their ministerial responsibility to abide by Executive decisions.

In all Cabinets a minister can argue around the executive table, but must toe the line once a majority decision is reached.

Peter Robinson is right. In any other system of government Michael McGimpsey would be sacked.

Legal advice sought by the UUP makes this clear and the other parties are well aware of it.

This begs the question of why the DUP and Sinn Fein don’t seek a judicial review, as they are entitled to do?

Their decision to tolerate |the breach, which puts a |big question mark over the |viability of all-party Government, is based on a political |calculation. Next Tuesday Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness set off for America and the annual St Patrick’s Day lobbying period.

Slinging parties out of the Executive would not provide a suitable backdrop.

It would signal instability and it would also smack of hypocrisy.

The truth is that the politics of sticking your heels in and|not budging unless you get |your own way was made into a fine art by the DUP and Sinn Fein.

For years they were Northern Ireland’s awkward parties.

They both stayed away from Executive meetings when it seemed politically advantageous, dragging their heels and |playing hardball on every petty decision.

George Mitchell will remember this, not to mention Hillary Clinton and her State Department officials.

In the past it was the UUP and SDLP who often provided momentum to the political process, while the DUP and |Sinn Fein provided the friction.

Now that the roles are reversed perhaps it is time |to think about changing a system of government, and a mindset, that encourages blocking tactics.

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