The Alliance Party seem to have spotted a gap in the ongoing public negotiations which the two main Unionist parties have neglected to nail down – the devolution of responsibility for Policing and Justice. According to their Justice spokesman, Stephen Farry, “A target date of two years should be established as part of any deal between the parties and the governments” as part of a “triple-lock” that must be sprung before responsibility for policing and justice is devolved to the Assembly.The Alliance Party is not happy with the SDLP’s proposal (no change there then) of an 18-month timetable from re-establishing the Assembly to the full devolution of policing and justice powers.
Instead they propose the construction of a ‘triple-lock’ to prevent responsibility for policing and justice being placed in the hands of a devolved executive before that “devolved executive is capable of exercising these powers responsibly”
According to the Alliance spokesman, unlocking that triple-lock would require –
A declaration by the Secretary of state for Northern Ireland that
a) The Assembly had backed the transfer on a cross-community basis;
b) There was enough stability and responsibility to cope with the new powers.
and, finally, “Any formal devolution of powers would then be subject to an affirmative resolution in both Houses of Parliament – the triple lock”
Now, who wants to tell the other parties?