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Martin McGuinness hopes to re-name role as 'joint first minister' - The Irish News
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Martin McGuinness hopes to re-name role as 'joint first minister'

Martin McGuinness said he would propose the name change if Sinn Féin became the assembly's largest party
Brendan Hughes

MARTIN McGuinness has said he would propose a name change to the "joint office of first minister" if Sinn Féin emerge as the largest party following next year's assembly elections.

Mr McGuinness said he is not fixated on "fancy titles" amid speculation that next year's assembly election could result in him becoming first minister.

But the Deputy First Minister said that if Sinn Féin emerged from the vote as the largest party, he would propose re-naming the ministerial roles.

Speaking to RTÉ on Thursday on the prospect of becoming first minister, Mr McGuinness said: "I'm not interested in fancy titles. I am only interested in the ongoing success of the peace process.

"I'm on the public record as saying that if it transpired that Sinn Féin was the largest party and if I was asked to be first minister by my party, I would make a recommendation that the titles would be changed to a position of joint first minister. Titles don't fixate me at all."

The first minister is nominated by the largest party. Despite the different titles, the roles of First Minister and Deputy First Minister have the same power and responsibility leading the Stormont executive.

But there has been speculation that unionists would refuse to serve under a Sinn Féin first minister.

Mr McGuinness has previously introduced himself as "Joint First Minister of the north" when attending the North South Ministerial Council.

He also floated his 'Joint First Ministers' idea if Sinn Féin became the largest party ahead of the last assembly election in 2011.

At the time it was dismissed as an "electoral tactic" by First Minister Peter Robinson, who refused to publicly contemplate anything but a DUP victory.

In 2009 Mr Robinson also hit out at an assembly deputy speaker who referred to Mr McGuinness as "Joint First Minister".

The term has also regularly been used by TUV leader Jim Allister to refer to both Mr McGuinness and Mr Robinson, in a jibe at his unionist rivals the DUP.


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