New justice minister to 'work with all parties'
THE North's new Justice Minister David Ford said the Real IRA bombing of MI5 HQ shows why all political parties have a "duty to provide leadership together".
Just minutes after being voted into office on a combination of DUP and Sinn Fein votes yesterday, the Alliance Party leader said his election did not complete the process of devolution, which would only come when the Assembly and Executive was performing "consistently well".
Mr Ford acknowledged he had not received unanimous support from MLAs, both Ulster Unionists and SDLP members voting against his appointment.
But he vowed to work closely with all parties as the first domestic justice minister in 40 years.
"I am fully conscious that I am not the unanimous choice of this Assembly but I do say to every member of this house, that we have a duty together to provide leadership and if we didn't know that before, we sadly had a reminder of it at half past twelve this morning," he said.
"We have a duty to show we can provide partnership, leadership and delivery and ensure that all our people see the benefits of devolution."
Nominated by his party's deputy leader Naomi Long, Mr Ford was finally confirmed as justice minister after attempts to secure cross-community backing for Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy and the SDLP's Alban Maginness foundered.
"This is, I believe, a significant day for Northern Ireland," Mr Ford said.
Immediately after his election, the DUP seized the chairmanship of the Assembly committee which will monitor the decisions of the new minister.
Leader Peter Robinson nominated Lord Morrow, a leading party skeptic who once said the devolution of policing and justice powers would not happen in the lifetime of the current Assembly.
Sinn Fein, as expected, took the vice-chair of the all-party committee.
DUP Minister Nelson McCausland said there were two reasons why his party could not support Mr Maginness - because of the SDLP's continued support for 50-50 recruitment for the police "which discriminates against the Protestant and unionist community".
However, SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie hit back and said that despite the progress of recent years the DUP still found it unacceptable for a nationalist, even the man who had been the first nationalist Lord Mayor of Belfast, to be the North's justice minister.