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Our conjoined ministers

Mark Devenport | 17:33 UK time, Thursday, 19 February 2009

On Monday Peter Robinson took the Deputy Speaker David McClarty to task for lapsing into Sinn Fein language by adopting the term "Joint First Minister" to refer to Martin McGuinness.

Today the unrepentant UUP MLA hit back, accusing Mr Robinson of being more concerned about his personal status than the big picture and "ranting whilst Rome burns".

I notice over on the Sinn Fein website the party has come up with yet another formulation, referring to Mr McGuinness as "Co-First Minister". Gone, it seems, are the days when he had to grin and bear it as Ian Paisley treated him like a deputy dawg.

Between Co-First Minister and Joint First Minister, our top two politicians appear, in republican eyes at least, to be getting ever closer. They may be constitutionally Siamese, but to paraphrase the song it looks like one of them isn't pleased at all about this attempt to erode his legal title.


  • 1. At 9:22pm on 19 Feb 2009, Stormontspy wrote:


    Another childish act by our kids on the hill. McGuiness's and Robinson's titles should be - failed politicians. What are they doing to help the economy? Answers on the back of a postage stamp.


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  • 2. At 10:06pm on 19 Feb 2009, bushmill_1608 wrote:

    Now we have a squabble over titles and a school boy comment that our First Minister is more interested in his "personal status than the big picture" many respects a statement of the obvious where most elected members at Stormont are concerned and no one more so than the member for East Londonderry.

    By implying that the First Minister is "ranting while Rome burns"... I would hazard a guess that the Deputy Speaker has perhaps let his guard slip on this one as I would wager there are still those on The First Minister's and Deputy Speaker's side of the house who in private would be more likely to smile than rant if that particular city in Italy burned!!!

    Turning to the reason for the squabble surely there is only one title for Martin McGuinness..................................and that is the title formally designated to the post he currently holds. Shouldn't be too difficult nto find out what it is.

    So use that title and move on to the next issue...balacing the books, supporting the SME sector and creating cost savings which might just keep this part of the Island afloat.

    Finally perhaps the Deputy Speaker will lead by example by being the first Assembly member to demonstrate that he really is more interested in the big picture than his own personal status by being the first member to call for the abolition of the Members Final Salary Scheme.

    Such a declaration will also allow him to demonstrate to his party leader Mr Cameron that he supports the leaders recently pronounced views on this matter.

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  • 3. At 09:55am on 20 Feb 2009, FermanaghUnionist wrote:

    The DUP wouldn't be at the top without Sinn Fein and vice versa. The need each other to scare 'the other side' into voting for the extremes. Robinson and McGuiness deserve each other. Peter justs needs to realise that without the 'Co-First Minsiter' he is politically null and void as nothing can be passed by OFMDFM without them both.

    A sad, but true, reflection of reality in the Assembly.

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  • 4. At 10:42am on 20 Feb 2009, traditional_unionist wrote:

    Peter Robinson and the DUP are doing nothing but trying to mislead the public over positions in Stormont.

    While people who post on here will no doubt know that the "First Minister" and "Deputy First Minister" have exactly the same power in terms of their role, the average voter who isnt actually that interested in politics but who uses their vote could very easily think that Peter Robinson is the "Top Dog". He certainly trys to think he is.

    I think it is time for this utter nonsense to stop and for the titles to be changed to simply "Joint First Ministers" as that is exactly what they are.

    The DUP's insistance on clinging onto the titles and complaining when others describe Martin and Peter as "Joint First Ministers" (which again is exactly what they are!!) shows them up as the misleaders that they are

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