a year after restoration..

As the NIO statement on the Queens speech today says, “There are two NIO led Bills in the legislative programme, namely, the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill and the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Bill.” The BBC report points to yet another transitional assembly being created. And the Commons Leader’s website has some information on one of those Bills – no real detail yet – that is of relevance to my previous post, as well as the general policing debate.

It places duties on a restored Executive to develop strategies relating to Irish and Ulster Scots language and to poverty and social exclusion, as well as to report to the Secretary of State a year after restoration on progress towards the devolution of policing and justice matters.

From the Commons Leader’s website

Northern Ireland Bill

Key Benefits
The Bill gives legislative effect to those elements of the St Andrews Agreement that require primary legislation and thereby paves the way for the restoration of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland on 26 March 2007.

It will cement a deal to secure the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland and therefore has the potential to be the foundation stone of a new Northern Ireland.

The Bill provides for transitional arrangements to be put in place between 24 November and the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

It amends the Northern Ireland Act 1998 in relation to the operation of the institutions of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, providing for a statutory Ministerial Code.amendments to the pledge of office and changes to the procedure for appointing First and deputy First Ministers.

It places duties on a restored Executive to develop strategies relating to Irish and Ulster Scots language and to poverty and social exclusion, as well as to report to the Secretary of State a year after restoration on progress towards the devolution of policing and justice matters.

That would seem to suggest that while there may be a target set, and the Secretary of State may want to meet it, the quadruple lock on the devolving of powers on policing and justice described in existing legislation will remain in place.

Which brings us back to the question posed by Frank Millar in today’s Irish Times