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Talk of Sinn Fein First Minister is scaremongering

The piece by Noel McAdam in the Belfast Telegraph entitled 'Unionists clash again on prospect of SF in top post' (News, September 22) contained a factual inaccuracy in the 'background' section.

The 'background' section accurately stated: 'Under Government changes enacted following the St Andrews negotiations, the prospect of a Republican First Minister becomes a possibility.' However, it then inaccurately stated: 'The St Andrews Agreement said: 'the nominating officer of the largest party ... shall make a nomination to the Assembly presiding officer for the post of First Minister.'

The St Andrews Agreement actually stated: 'The Nominating Officer of the largest party in the largest designation in the Assembly shall make a nomination to the Assembly Presiding Officer for the post of First Minister.'

It has been falsely claimed that, under the 1998 Agreement, the post of First Minister went to the largest party of the largest community.

Neither the Belfast Agreement, nor subsequent legislation, created any such arrangements. However, the St Andrews Agreement actually improved and corrected the situation.

Regrettably, the Government did not implement this section of the St Andrews Agreement. Even with the DUP not standing in two constituencies, we were only 0.5% behind Sinn Fein at the last election. Therefore, I do not envisage Sinn Fein becoming the largest party at the Assembly election and those scaremongering and peddling fear on this issue should cease.


MLA for North Antrim


From Belfast Telegraph