Monday, 18 April 2016
Regardless of whether the DUP's hints that it might take the education portfolio next time d'Hondt is triggered are bluff intended to scare Sinn Féin off taking DFP, most folk will surely agree that such bluff can only be guaranteed to work out as planned with two parties involved, i.e. if more than one Unionist party wishes to make education a priority, with all the attendant competition the chances of the Department going to Nationalists are vastly reduced.
It is somewhat worrisome, therefore, that the UUP too is now making noises about taking education. Of course, it is something of a moot point whether the party will be in the Executive at all or assume the mantle of a formal opposition (in practical terms, to the DUP). However, it is clear that if Sinn Féin wishes to retain control of the Department, it must take it first, regardless of whether it is the largest party (the Blether Region expects that it will in any case take another five years at least for that to happen).
For an idea of what a Department of Education run by Unionist ultras might look like, see Slugger O'Toole today.