Government statement at St Andrews…

That Joint Ministerial statement from the two governments, published yesterday can be found below the fold… Apparently the banner behind the speakers branded the whole event St Andrews… Nice piece of re-branding of the Good Friday Agreement. It remains to be seen whether it has the good steady presbyterian foundations some of its proponents clearly think it has.Joint statement: Irish and British governments

Agreement at St Andrews

1 Over the past three days in St Andrews we have engaged intensively with the Northern Ireland political parties with a view to achieving the goal we set in Armagh in April, which is shared by all the parties and the overwhelming majority of people in Northern Ireland: the restoration of the political institutions. We believe that the transformation brought about by the ending of the IRA’s campaign provides the basis for a political settlement.

2 Our discussions have been focused on achieving full and effective operation of the political institutions. When we arrived in Scotland a limited number of outstanding issues remained to be resolved, including support for and devolution of policing and the criminal justice system, changes to the operation of the agreement institutions, and certain other matters raised by the parties or flowing from the Preparation for Government Committee. The two governments now believe that the agreement we are publishing today clears the way to restoration.

Powersharing and the political institutions

3 Both governments remain fully committed to the fundamental principles of the agreement: consent for constitutional change, commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means, stable inclusive partnership government, a balanced institutional accommodation of the key relationships within Northern Ireland, between North and South and within these islands, and for equality and human rights at the heart of the new dispensation in Northern Ireland. All parties to this agreement need to be wholeheartedly and publicly committed, in good faith and in a spirit of genuine partnership, to the full operation of stable power-sharing government and the North-South and east-west arrangements.

4 Following discussion with all the parties, we have made an assessment of practical changes to the operation of the institutions and we are publishing today a clear outline of these. The British government will introduce legislation in Parliament before the statutory November deadline to enact these changes, once parties have endorsed the agreement and agreed definitively to restore the power-sharing institutions. Details of these changes are set out in Annex A.

Policing and the rule of law

5 We have consistently said that support for policing and the rule of law should be extended to every part of the community. We believe that all the parties share this objective. Notwithstanding the right of every political party to hold the police to account, we believe that there are fundamental principles of support for the police and the courts which underpin any democratic society.

6 We believe that the essential elements of support for law and order include endorsing fully the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the criminal justice system, actively encouraging everyone in the community to co-operate fully with the PSNI in tackling crime in all areas and actively supporting all the policing and criminal justice institutions, including the Policing Board.

7 Discussions on the devolution of policing and justice have progressed well in the Preparation for Government Committee. The governments have requested the parties to continue these discussions so as to agree the necessary administrative arrangements to create a new policing and justice department. It is our view that implementation of the agreement published today should be sufficient to build the community confidence necessary for the Assembly to request the devolution of criminal justice and policing from the British government by May 2008.

Human Rights, Equality, Victims and other issues

8 Both governments have also discussed other matters raised by the parties. Some of these relate to the final implementation of the agreement and others have been raised in the context of the Preparation for Government Committee. The British government has also agreed to take forward a number of measures to build confidence in both communities and to pursue a shared future for Northern Ireland in which the culture, rights and aspirations of all are respected and valued, free from sectarianism, racism and intolerance. Details of all these issues are set out in Annex B.

Financial package for the newly restored Executive

9 The governments are also committed to working with the parties to establish the most favourable possible financial climate for a newly restored Executive. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister for Finance will meet delegations from the First and Deputy First Minister to take this forward. Details of how this might be achieved are set out in Annex C.

Conclusion

10 We believe that all parties should be able to endorse this agreement and to implement it in good faith, building the trust and confidence necessary for a stable and lasting settlement.

We have set out a fixed timetable for the implementation of this agreement in Annex D and have asked parties, having consulted their members, to confirm their acceptance by 10 November. Following endorsement of the St Andrews agreement by the parties the Assembly will meet to nominate the First and Deputy First Minister on 24 November.

Between that date and restoration of the Executive on 26 March the new Programme for Government Committee will agree all the necessary arrangements relating to ministerial responsibilities, ensuring that d’Hondt can be run and the Executive can operate immediately.

11 Verification and compliance mechanisms relating to the Assembly already exist, as set out in the agreement between the governments published in May 2003 and in the Belfast Agreement.

The prime minister and the Taoiseach are determined that default by any one of the parties following restoration of the Executive should not be allowed to delay or hinder political progress in Northern Ireland.

12 The Governments have made clear that in the event of failure to reach agreement by the 24 November we will proceed on the basis of the new British-Irish partnership arrangements to implement the Belfast Agreement.

13 It is clear to us that all the parties wish to see devolution restored. It is also clear to us that all parties wish to support policing and the rule of law.

We hope they will seize this opportunity for bringing the political process in Northern Ireland to completion and establishing power-sharing government for the benefit of the whole community.

  • 4thlanark

    Foundations…..

    Interesting analogy. The presbyterian form of church government is a highly democratic system, where no one leader can stamp their authority or views on the church. Not so sure about the free presbyterian or catholic forms of church government….

  • T.Ruth

    The new “Ulster Scots Agreement” is great news for us all and lets hope everbody involved can meet their obligations in the incoming months and that by this time next year we are forging ahead with making Northern ireland a great place to live.
    T Ruth

  • Ulick

    LMFAO at the newly reformed DUPers. What a difference a day makes. Lol. What say you Fair Deal? Lol…

  • Ulick

    Smash Sinn Fein… Sackcloth and ashes… No terrorists in government… lol

  • Comrade Stalin

    T.Ruth,

    Tell me how you feel about Martin McGuinness as a deputy First Minister ?

  • joeCanuck

    Comrade

    How did you feel about Nelson Mandela as the President of South Africa?

  • Reader

    Comrade Stalin: Tell me how you feel about Martin McGuinness as a deputy First Minister ?
    Working for the Brits officially now instead of provisionally?

  • Dáithí

    Interesting developments regarding an Irish Language Act. No timescale though…

  • ciaran damery

    As a moderate, sinn fein republican/nationalist, I have real concerns with this ‘deal’ on the table.

    Ruc need to be removed from the equation. Tinkering with the Unionist militia cosmetically, as in the name change, fools only fools and ‘little englanders’ with an agenda…nobody else.

    Paisleyites need to understand that the embryonic N/S Executive entities will evolve and expand irrespective of Orange obstinancy. It should also be recognized as a process, not an end to ‘conflict’ and division.

    Ultimately, the onus rests on the colonizer to remove itself from occupied Ireland. If Blair had any sense he would decide on process of disengagement from that part of Ulster and set a date for British withdrawal. That – would be his legacy, his enduring moment in history.

    It’s happing anayway. May as well be on Blair’s watch, if he wants the kudos.

  • deutsch

    to Ciaran,

    Wise up.

    The rest of ireland would be better off removing the blinkers and joining the rest of us in the UK and enjoy life without living in the past.

  • Carson’s Cat

    Ciaran Damery
    “Paisleyites need to understand that the embryonic N/S Executive entities will evolve and expand irrespective of Orange obstinancy.”

    That’s going to be a bit tricky with the requirement for cross-community consent in the future……

    Unfortunately the ‘organgies’ aren’t likely to agree to too much evoution and expansion of N/S agencies.

  • ciaran damery

    Carson’s pussy – In order to be seen to be in compliance with the GFA, Paisleyites will do what is required.

    In terms of the evolution of a reunited Ireland, it will just happen. There will be no crashes of thunder. No flashing lights. Not even the noise of the dirty Orange lambeg ‘drum’ will be heard.

    The process is proceeding…your inability to see the unravelling of the gerrymandered statelet and reunification, is frequently referred to as looking thru’ “Orange Blinkers”, or in other words blinded by the cult of Paisleyism. But have it your way, cuz we will take it anyway.

  • 4thlanark

    Ciaran Damery,

    Reality – in current North-South bodies, employees North of the border are payed approximately 35% less than their colleagues South of the border for doing the same job. This is with the full knowledge of the Southern government.
    “Building an Ireland of equals” anyone?

  • guillaume

    Let’s not get carried away by sudden decision.The side deals have not yet been aired not to mention rowed back on.It seems the dup have been playing for the closest to the agreement possible that is impossible for sinn fein to accept ie. they have been learning from gerry.If sinn fein grassroots can swallow it then the dup are in serious trouble.The joker has been played.Time for republicans to reflect on the dup trying to copy them,time for them to swallow and let their children laugh.

  • Carson’s Cat

    Ciaran Damery
    “In terms of the evolution of a reunited Ireland, it will just happen. There will be no crashes of thunder. No flashing lights. Not even the noise of the dirty Orange lambeg ‘drum’ will be heard.”

    Yes yes, its always just around the corner isn’t it…. Have to keep selling the myth otherwise what is there?

    Maybe you’d care to explain exactly, and with some detail how the evolution of cross-border bodies (which was your original argument) will take place when it requires cross-community consent in the Nortehrn Ireland Assembly? I’d be very interested to hear.

  • smithsonian

    Ciaran Damery
    You’re like a dog chasing a motorbike, you wouldn’t know what to do with it if (in the very unlikely event) you acutally managed to catch it.

  • T.Ruth

    Comrade Stalin-I think Martin McGuiness will have even more difficulty with being in that position (Deputy First Minister) than I will have accepting a self confessed terrorist in that position.
    I hate the idea of former terrorists being in the Executive level of government as of right but in the interests of a peaceful future for my children and grandchildren I may have to accept that. It is too much to hope for that he would have the decency to exclude himself from holding office as a gesture to the victims of terrorism and their families.
    I also resent Peter”Bully Boy” Bain banging on about Plan B-If anyone resiles from the Ulster Scots’/St.Andrew’s Agreement, the democratic parties should be permitted and encouraged to move on without them, maintaining the Institutions and the Devolved Assembly. Those not committed to peaceful democratic politics, those who cannot support equal responsibility sharing government and the Legal and Policing Services of the state should be excluded from the Executive level of government..
    T.Ruth

  • Brian Boru

    Hope this gets implemented but don’t think it will be. At the end of the day, Unionism is just too reactionary and has until March to come up wit ha pretext to wreck the whole thing.

  • T.Ruth

    It is wrong to equate anyone from the IRA with Nelson Mandela. Mandela lived in a state that denied him the opportunity to effect change through the ballot box. Those who developed and sustained a reign of paramilitary terror in Northern Ireland over the past forty years did so in a context where they had absolutely equal rights to vote in Dail, Stormont and Westminster Elections.
    The terror campaign of the IRA stemmed from the Republican desire to force the majority community in Northern Ireland into a Marxist United Ireland against its will.
    The resort to violence was a conscious decision taken by Republicanism as it had no hope of achieving success by a peaceful strategy that would have required Republicans to regard Unionists as equal members of the Nation.
    Comparisons between any Republican who may have contributed to the murderous IRA campaign of bombing and assassination and Nelson Mandela are odious to Unionists.
    T.Ruth

  • I wonder…

    …but some Unionists still believe Nelson Mandela should hang, don’t they?

    He was “a terrorist” and certain Unionists are still against this Agrement as they believe it allows terrorists into Government.

    I recall Young Unionists wearing “Hang Mandela” bages when I was at Queens in the 1980s?

  • T.Ruth

    I wonder
    I cannot condone violence as a response to injustice-there are other peaceful ways but certainly it is easier to consider Nelson Mandela as a freedom fighter than it would be to equate him with those in Northern Ireland who conducted a campaign of terror against fellow citizens of a different religion.
    Where people have access to the ballot box on an entirely equal basis as is and was the case in Northern Ireland there can be no justification of violence. Opposing the Apartheid regime in South Africa makes the potential for people to seek a violent solution more understandable.
    There are positive examples.I think Ghandi’s lasting legacy is that Peace can be brought about by non violent means. This of course is also the Christian teaching to which I subscribe.
    T.Ruth

  • Elvis Parker

    Ulick
    ‘Smash Sinn Fein… Sackcloth and ashes… No terrorists in government… lol ‘
    Agree with you totally Ulick
    Also
    ‘We wont support policing until devolution is up and running – including policing and justice. We wont have MI5 in charge of security, blah, blah’
    LOL

  • Billy

    T Ruth

    “Where people have access to the ballot box on an entirely equal basis as is and was the case in Northern Ireland”

    NOT TRUE for many years of Unionist mis-rule and wasn’t changed until 1968 (when the civil rights movement started).

    Interestingly, many Unionist leaders who preach about democracy were quite happy to see the CORE principle of democracy ( 1 person 1 vote) ignored in NI for many years. Rather hypocritical, wouldn’t you say?

    Incidentally, I am not and never have been a Sinn Fein supporter or advocate of violence. I just don’t like Unionists who claim that Catholics weren’t discriminated against and that everything was fine prior to 1969.

  • exuup

    Where people have access to the ballot box on an entirely equal basis as is and was the case in Northern Ireland”

    NOT TRUE for many years of Unionist mis-rule and wasn’t changed until 1968 (when the civil rights movement started). – Billy

    Billy the same voting system was used by protestants and catholics, ordinary prods had no more votes than ordinary catholics.#

    Catholics that owned businesses, and dont pretend you were all living in grass huts becasue you coulndt get a house let alone a business, had more votes that working class protestants

    (this practise of allowing extra votes to business owners also continued in the rest of the uK well into the 1950s)

  • iwonder

    One thing that I always wonder about is why it has to be Martin McGuiness as Deputy First Minister. Its like the shinners saw how upset the prods got when McGuiness was education minister and thought they’d do it again. With the exception of Gerry Kelly there is no one more controversial than McGuiness to nominate for Deputy First Minister. Why don’t they nominate Gerry Adams who is the leader?

  • T.Ruth

    The practice of allocating a business vote applied only to local Council elections(and had some economic justification) and then applied equally to Protestant and R.Catholic business premises on the grounds that those involved were paying rates in two different locations.This Ratepaying Franchise and continued in England /Scotland/wales until 1958 I believe.
    The elections to Stormont(from its inception) and Westminster(since the vote was granted to women) were always entirely on a one person/one man one vote basis with Protestants and R.Catholics having exactly the same voting rights. There was no legislation in either system that discriminated against Catholics though SF/IRA propaganda would have brainwashed many Nationalists and indeed Unionists into a belief that such was the case.

    I did not at any stage attempt to create the impression that there was no discrimination in Northern Ireland merely pointing out that there was no need wharsoever to forsake politics and murder fellow citizens in the pursuit of political objectives.
    T.Ruth

  • T.Ruth

    Billy
    Check your facts and don’t buy into the
    propaganda.The Stormont franchise was always on an equal one man /person one vote basis since the establishment of the Northern Ireland state.
    Westminster elections always had one person one vote since women were granted the vote.There was no government legislation that did not apply equally to Protestants and Catholics.I know the level of poverty that affected my community as a child was no less severe than that in Catholic communities.
    Northern Ireland Local Council franchise was entirely equal on a religious basis. Business voters got a vote on the basis they paid rates in more than one location -fairly reasonable in a rate paying Franchise which existed in the rest of UK until maybe 1958.
    There was discrimination in Northern Ireland on both sides I am sure,but nothing that would justify killing and maiming hundreds,indeed thousands, of fellow citizens to promote a particular political viewpoint.Can you honestly imagine that things would not have changed as a result of peceful politics?. Are you of the opinion that the violence of the past forty years could be justified?
    T.Ruth