Maginness candidate for justice role

Published Tuesday, 09 February 2010
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The SDLP's Alban Maginness has been put forward as a candidate for the post of first Justice Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive.

The SDLP was the only party to nominate a candidate as party leaders met First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to consider the applications for the post.

The Alliance leader David Ford is the favourite to take the post, which will have responsibilities for policing, the courts, the public prosecution service and prisons.

But following Tuesday's meeting, David Ford confirmed he had declined to put himself forward and had instead published a number of justice policies which he would like to see implemented.

"We need to see agreed policies for the department of justice which would ensure it delivers for the people of Northern Ireland", Mr Ford told UTV.

"Those are the conditions that we have set. Those are the conditions by which we will judge any Alliance involvement."

He admitted there had been some "frostiness" at the Stormont meeting but added Sinn Fein and the DUP were prepared to engage.

The SDLP, which insists Alliance has no right to the role under the d'Hondt system, has nominated Alban Maginness, a former lawyer who represents north Belfast in the Assembly.

SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie said: "There should not be any departure from the democratic principles as enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement."

Ms Ritchie said she had agreed to participate in more bilateral meetings with Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness.

She is also holding talks with Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin in Dublin on Wednesday.

"We, in the SDLP, want policing and justice delivered as quickly as possible but there should not be any corruption of democracy in terms of the appointment," she added.

The Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey also refused to nominate a candidate.

"We've had a long-standing opposition to the gerrymandering of the system we feel is being proposed", Sir Reg told UTV.

"So we didn't feel appropriate today to make a nomination."

The DUP and Sinn Fein agreed not to nominate candidates from within their own ranks to help achieve the necessary cross-community backing in a vote scheduled for 9 March.

More meetings are planned in the coming weeks before a Justice Minister is formally appointed on 12 April when, under the terms of the Hilssborough deal, policing and justice powers are devolved from London to Belfast.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
lorna in limavady wrote (1,529 days ago):
Started to get worried, thought it was Martin McGuiness ! I would say Alban will be ok.
Sam in Belfast wrote (1,530 days ago):
Another farce, another crisis, more threats no doubt in store. Can we please close down Stormont and get rid of ALL of these clowns. They can't and NEVER will agree on what day of the week it is!
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