Why the outcry over Martin as First Minister?

Dear Sir,

The painful immaturity of politics in Northern Ireland never ceases to amaze me. The most recent illustration of which was the knee-jerk reaction to a statement by the Secretary of State, on the BBC’s Hearts and Minds programme, followed by extensive coverage in your paper.

In many respects the response was predictable from those who either, lack the grace or ability to ask for an explanation before jumping in to make what they consider to be political capital.

The St Andrew’s Agreement of 2006, which changed the method of appointing ‘First’ and ‘Deputy First’ Ministers, from the largest designation to the largest political party was agreed by the two largest political parties. Any attempt to change this by the Secretary of State would rightly raise the cry of ‘foul’, from the two political parties concerned.

I understand perfectly well what the Rt. Hon. Owen Paterson meant when he said it would be “an extraordinary endorsement of the progress that has been made”, if Martin McGuinness the present “Deputy First Minister”, were appointed “First Minister”.

Why can Unionists not see that, as well as being of little significance as the ‘First’ and ‘Deputy First’ are equal at present, it would lock Sinn Fein even further into accepting the status quo?

Yours etc.

Brian Kennaway (Rev)

Co. Antrim

This letter appeared in the Belfast News Letter and the Belfast Telegraph on 8th February 2011