Not promises about not putting up Assembly candidates – yet. However, for Conservative Yoopyphobes, there is a cheering headline to a report in the Belfast Telegraph today.
David McNarry has called for Owen Paterson’s head following his stated refusal to change the rule, enacted following the St. Andrews Agreement, that the First Minister will be the leader of the largest party – not the leader of the largest party within the largest designation. The rule has made it slightly more likely that Martin McGuinness will become First Minister, following the May Assembly elections.
Nobody here is surprised by what Owen Paterson has said. His position has been consistent for a long time. There will be no changing of any of the rules regulating Stormont without a consensus from both communities.
McNarry has also suggested that there is a difference of position between Owen Paterson and David Cameron. He is quite wrong. David Cameron has spoken out about his personal feelings when dealing with Martin McGuinness. But he has also made clear the paramountcy of maintaining peace. He said:
”I do find it painful that I now sometimes sit around a table with Martin McGuinness and I think about what that man did.
”But everyone has to come to terms with that because that is the price we are paying for peace, and it is a price that is worth paying, because peace is so much better than the alternative.”
The idea that Conservatives would introduce a measure which would be likely to bring Stormont crashing down is ridiculous. It may be worth recalling the following words of the 2010 election manifesto, which the UUP once bought into
“In Northern Ireland, we strongly support the political institutions established over the past decade and we are committed to making devolution work.”