Mark Durkan has been castigated by some nationalists – including Sinn Fein representatives - for suggesting that there will come a time when the structures of the Assembly may need to be overhauled. Notably he remarked that the designation system was part of the original ‘scaffolding’ of the Belfast Agreement and that hopefully there would come a time when it would be possible to take the ‘ugly edifice’ down. The negative reaction from some quarters was so intense that Durkan was forced to ‘clarify’ or rather qualify his remarks.
Unionists had welcomed his views. It is unclear whether this was an attempt by Mr Durkan to encourage debate or whether Mr Durkan was caught off guard. The remarks were part of his speech to the British-Irish Association Annual Conference in Oxford last weekend. Everything at the Conference is supposed to be under ‘Chatham House Rules’ whereby one can only quote the speaker with their permission. So one must assume that Mr Durkan approved the report initially?
Meanwhile the Irish News is reporting what we previously speculated – that Alban Maginness might well be the SDLP’s candidate in the European elections next June. Have the SDLP resigned themselves to not getting the Minister for Justice post?