Gerry Kelly reiterated his party’s position that it will not recognise the police until policing and justice is devolved to a local minister. With the DUP now murmuring that it may agree to a devolved administration but resist such devolved powers, this could be an interesting next round Northern Ireland’s long running game of political chicken. Given Government proposals to concurrently both fund and de-regulate Community Restorative Justice schemes in Nationalist areas, Dean Godson, now of Policy Exchange, likens such a move to letting the fox into the hen house.The schemes, which are currently privately funded, he argues, have not been above reproach:
Catherine McCartney is under no illusions about “restorative justice”. “If a kid has a dispute with someone and he’s called into a restorative justice meeting in a nationalist area, that means it’s going to be run by the IRA,” she told me. “Look at my home area of Short Strand. When they put out the notice for the creation of a restorative justice programme there were some perfectly decent people on it — but also many Provisionals, plus some of those women who picketed the home of my brother’s partner after the murder.”
Indeed, when Robert McCartney’s best friend, Jeff Commander, was subsequently assaulted by republicans armed with iron bars, the attack was witnessed by a leading CRJ figure — one Harry Maguire, who was convicted for his part in the murder of the British corporals. Yet despite observing all this, he hasn’t made a statement to the police, even though the Commander family have asked him to do so and it is a crime not to report such an event.