“if there are reasons why that timetable needs to be changed..”

Yesterday it was Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr, today the Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward took his place in front of the committee tasked with assessing whether to request the devolution of policing and justice powers. No real surprises in his reported comments – he’s still pointing at that target date. But if anyone remains baffled by what the situation is.. here’s a quick reminder.There are a couple of interesting points to note from the BBC report, which relate to the final question and answer noted here.

“There is a timetable within the agreement (St Andrew’s) – I can see no reason why we shouldn’t be able to work to that timetable,” he said.

“Equally, it stands therefore that if there are reasons why that timetable needs to be changed and can be agreed between the parties in a different version that seems to me to be entirely acceptable.”

He admitted the legislation allowed him to impose a departmental structure, but said it was “unimaginable” he would use this power.

He declined to comment on remarks from Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde that the transfer of justice powers might take place in autumn next year.

Unimaginable, indeed. Although changing that timetable wouldn’t necessarily require agreement between the parties..

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  • Ian

    If the SoS were to announce that proposed moves by the NIO to abolish 50% remission for serious offences were to be put on hold pending devolution of justice powers to the Assembly (instead allowing the Assembly to legislate on the issue), that might help to focus minds amongst Unionist MLAs.