Sinn Féin blocks PfG Report.. and any further debate..

Perhaps surprisingly, this doesn’t seem to have made much of a noise in the wider arena. But the Hansard record of Hain’s the Preparation for Government Committee meeting on 15th September, ostensibly to discuss the draft report on Rights; Safeguards; Equality Issues and Victims, couldn’t be clearer [or should that be more confused? – Ed]. After a closed session, in which the Committee agreed what was in the actual report, Hansard started recording again.. and that’s when the trouble started.. Update belowI’ve mentioned some of the exasperating exchanges that have taken place in the PfG committee.. but none as exasperating as this..

This time the Committee met in closed morning session and resumed at 12.08pm.. just in time to take lunch..

On resuming —

12.47 pm

The Chairman (Mr Molloy): I remind members to switch off any mobile phones that may have been on over the lunch break because they interfere with the Hansard recording equipment.

Ms Ruane: Sinn Féin has agreed the content of the report but will not ratify it, because reports are being used as the basis for talking-shop debates. We will not participate in that sham for all the reasons that we have outlined. It is obvious from Ian Paisley’s comments two days ago that the DUP has no notion of, or interest in, power sharing before 24 November. Therefore Sinn Féin will not ratify reports until it sees how they contribute to restoration.

If we are satisfied, at some point in the future, that the reports have such a contribution to make, we will revisit the matter. However, we are not prepared to take part in shams and at the moment will not support the report. We do not agree to its being published or to a motion going forward to the Secretary of State.

Mr McCarthy: I propose that we accept the first of the two motions that were presented to us for a plenary debate and forward that to the Secretary of State.

The Chairman (Mr Molloy): Caitríona, what do you mean by not ratifying the report?

Ms Ruane: Sinn Féin agrees with the content of the report but will not ratify it. We do not accept that the report be published or that it go forward to the Secretary of State, because it is not agreed.

Ms Lewsley: In that case, may I ask for a point of information? My understanding is that when members were asked at each stage of this report whether they agreed it, Sinn Féin said yes. Yet you are saying now that you do not agree the report.

Ms Ruane: No. In answer to your point of inform­ation, Sinn Féin agrees the content of the report, which is why I asked the Chairperson earlier whether the report would be ratified. We do not agree to its being ratified or published, nor do we agree to the motion.

And that’s when it all kicked off..

I’ll just add the final exchange as the meeting was adjourned

The Chairman (Mr Molloy): We can take this no further at this time.

Ms Lewsley: It is a waste of time. Unfortunately, we have all wasted our time.

The Chairman (Mr Molloy): All we can do is adjourn the meeting, on the basis that no further progress can be made.

Since then the PfG Committee met on 18th September to talk to Peter Hain… and the Assembly debated the PfG Committee’s Report on Law and Order Issues[pdf file]… but that report and the motion had been agreed on the 13th September, by the PfG committee – including the SF members – meeting in closed session, as detailed in the minutes.. even if they didn’t subsequently turn up for the debate itself.

Update There’s a further post on this topic here