In recent weeks the media has been reporting on an ongoing dispute between Attorney General (Minister for Justice) Steven Davis and Chief Secretary Issac Lupari.
The issue in dispute was Davis's decision to sack Acting Solicitor General Faith Keene Barton for negligence of duty (lack of duty of care).
Following the decision it is alleged Issac Lupari, who is closely associated to Barton tried to intervene by directing the Government Printing Office not to gazette Davis's decision giving effect to her termination.
Davis responded:
“I have cleared this position with the Prime Minister and so I see no reason why public servants should be interfering with due processes, especially a process that is justified in the circumstances where State legal services are under some degree of negligence."
“If they don’t allow the gazettal I will go to court to get the court order. If I take court action it will compel the Government Printing Office to print because if they refuse to print under certain instructions from ‘someone’ they will appear in court as a defendant."
One would have thought the dispute would have ended there, however this week Davis has once again gone to media reconfirming his position.
“Public servants have no powers to stop government appointment processes,”
“This instance is no different and the only person with the power to block ministerial appointments is the Prime Minister whom I consulted on the matter prior to making the appointment” Davis is reported saying.
If Davis had the full support of the Prime Minister why bother defending his decision in the media and threatening to go to Court?
What many in the public are not privy to is the dispute between Davis and Lupari has been going on for sometime. Talk in the corridors of Parliament last year was that Davis was to be sacked for blocking a number of corrupt claims against the State that needed Attorney General Office approval.
As I explained in my previous articles the only time you hear of a rumoured cabinet reshuffle suggests a Minister is refusing to be subservient to the Prime Minister or directive's from his political cronies. It is typically just a bluff in an effort to get the Minister to pull his head in or remind him who is the boss.
In the past most Minister's have been dumb enough to believe it rather than stand their ground and lobby the support of their Minister colleagues.
To-date Davis has stood his ground refusing to back down, confirmed by sacking of Lupari's loyal side kick Barton.
Davis claims to have the support of the Prime Minister over Barton's sacking, however the fact is Lupari has stronger relationship ties to O'Neill.
It was Lupari who worked behind the scenes to keep O'Neill from being arrested in 2014.
While Lupari may feel he runs the show, he is not a Minister and has no say in NEC or the floor of Parliament.
Davis being a Member of NEC is technically the appointing authority of Lupari and being Member of Parliament also makes him the appointing authority of Prime Minister.
An appointing authority whose powers kick in after 5th February 2019.
Its my view Lupari has been gunning to have Davis sacked for some time, however on the eve of vote no of confidence Lupari has become irrelevant.
For the past 18 months Ministers have become subservient to the Prime Minister who has been taking his orders from Lupari. With 18 month grace period expiring on 5th February the power has shifted from the Prime Minister to Members of Parliament.
If Davis wants to be taken seriously in National Politics then he needs to step up and demonstrate leadership by calling for Lupari's sacking.
How to sack Lupari?
Davis need only prepare a one page NEC submission to have Lupari sacked, get 10 Ministers of sign the motion to confirm he has strong support and have it tabled at the next NEC meeting.
I've been informed many Ministers are tired of what Davis has described as an unrelenting interference by Chief Secretary.
The concern for Davis will be whether O'Neill will side with Lupari and instead sack him as Minister for Justice.
O'Neill has a history for sacking anyone who is not subservient to his leadership or the wishes of his political cronies, which includes Lupari.
If O'Neill were to sack Davis or any Minister at this juncture it would be all over him as Prime Minister.
It will be interesting to see if Davis has what it takes to continue to stand his ground and be respected and feared or end up being played like a fool as many have in the past.
One thing Davis can be assured of is that after reading this article O'Neill will be quick to contact him, concerned he may take my advice.
Further still I suspect O'Neill will direct Lupari to make peace with Davis concerned the issue will cause further cracks in Government. It will be evident at that point Lupari and even O'Neill answer to Davis.

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