The BBC pick up on comments by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, in an interview on BBC NI’s Inside Politics, which strongly imply that the reports of moves on policing, noted yesterday ahead of motions on policing at the SF Ard Fheis, may not be as expected as some might think, and that the new Policing Board, in April, will not contain members of SF. But more importantly is the time-line he suggests in the quote. It’s a different choreography to that set out in the proposed Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.The quote by Adams in the BBC report –
“Can we get an extraordinary ard fheis (conference) before that[April], can we get legislation before that, can we get the DUP on board before that – that all appears to be unlikely.
“If we do all of that of course I’m quite prepared to go before ard chomhairle (party officers) whether it’s April fool’s day or not, Mr Adams said.”
While the Bill contains this proposal –
21A Northern Ireland department with policing and justice functions
(1) This section applies if an Act of the Assembly—
(a) establishes a new Northern Ireland department; and
(b) provides that the purpose of the Department is to exercise functions consisting wholly or mainly of devolved policing and justice functions.
And the time-line set out in the government’s discussion document for that process is as follows –
19.2 The Bill enhances the arrangements already set out in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (section 4) for further devolution. Section 4 allows the Secretary of State, by Order, to devolve reserved matters, but only if the Assembly has passed a resolution, with a crosscommunity vote, requesting it. This therefore requires the parties in the Assembly to have come to an agreement about whether or not the time is right to request further devolution, about what should be devolved and about the departmental structures that should be put in place to receive the new functions. It is only at the point when these decisions have been taken that it will be possible to set in place the detailed implementation plan – and to draw up the secondary legislation – required to effect the transfer.[added emphasis]
Updated to include the full quote from Adams, where he suggests that SF believe they can hold off on giving final consent on policing until after the secondary legislation is enacted.. which seems unlikely given that all parties in the Assembly must first agree to devolve policing and justice powers.