SDLP stake claim to Justice ministry


The SDLP today staked its claim to any future Policing and Justice ministry at Stormont and accused the DUP and Sinn Féin of trying to deny it its right to hold it.

The two leading parties in the power sharing executive have been discussing a proposal to hand the new portfolio to the Alliance party if and when security powers are devolved from Westminster.

They believe giving the role to a cross community party could resolve the current political impasse over the ministry.

However the SDLP said the Alliance party has no electoral mandate to hold an executive position and, based on the D’hondt allocation system, which usually favours larger political parties, it was the party that should be offered any newly created position.

The SDLP currently holds one ministry on the executive, the Ulster Unionists two with the DUP and Sinn Féin holding six and five (including a junior minister each) respectively.

SDLP Justice spokesperson Alban Maginness said his party will actively pursue its democratic entitlement to hold any future Policing and Justice portfolio in the devolved administration.

He accused Sinn Féin and the DUP of attempting an ‘Executive Gerrymander’ to prevent this.

“It seems that the only thing that the DUP and Sinn Féin can agree on is that the SDLP should be denied a Ministry to which we are entitled under the rules,” said the North Belfast MLA.

“The devolution of Policing and Justice powers to the North is the final piece in the jigsaw of implementing the Good Friday Agreement.

“Bending and breaking that agreement to serve narrow party political interests is not a basis to ensure a stable and effective ministry,"  he said.

Mr Maginness also urged the Alliance party not to countenance such a proposal.