DUP attempts to run with [reserved] Alliance ball

Interesting report on the BBC. According to their home affairs correspondent, Vincent Kearney – “Ian Paisley Jnr says the party will raise the issue at the next meeting of the British Irish Council in December”. The issue is one of the hot pursuit of suspects by police across the border and, since neither the UK nor the Republic of Ireland have fully implemented the Schengen Agreement, such hot pursuit by police between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland can’t legally happen at the minute. Except.. surely, being a ‘policing and justice’ area, that’s a reserved matter and, as such, comes under the authority of the NIO Security Minister Paul Goggins? And even if it was a devolved matter, surely the Executive would have to discuss it first, and the Assembly might have a say, before it could be proposed at the British-Irish Council? And let’s not forget, as well, that it was an Alliance Party proposal to begin with. Or is the junior minister just attempting to distract attention from other matters.. [No wonder the Irish Justice minister wasn’t available to comment directly on the suggestion – Ed]

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  • DC

    Peter Robinson was in Dublin recently seeking further co-operation with the Irish government on economic affairs now Paisley Junior is seeking access to Dermot Ahern’s office to discuss more cross-border co-operation.

    Alliance ought to feel reassured that democratic centrism is making in-roads at a policy level.

    It is a clear indication of unionism shifting on cross border matters, perhaps to a centrist outlook, but it vindicates those with the held notion that the DUP shouted down the GFA for nothing other than to grab headlines by which to grow its power base during a time of great uncertainty and sensitivity among the pro-union electorate.

    Ultimately, more DUP hypocrisy and longstanding policy being u-turned.

  • Sean

    Pete with all those links and cross links you’re a conspiracy nut at heart arent you?

  • Pete Baker

    No, Sean, and not just because the tinfoil doesn’t work.

    Just focussing in on the detail on this supposed proposal by Ian Paisley Jnr.

    Wonder why he’s looking to be in the headlines at this point in time..


    You’re missing the detail on this. The DUP are not members of the British-Irish Council.. the devolved administration is.

  • DC

    On first reading the post the obvious question, which you raise, is whether it is a matter for British-Irish council at all.

    But the detail to my eye is the wording and the intention of the DUP to adopt this as something worth executing. The substance of this proposal was something that was, formerly, anathema to the DUP.

    Painful memories of DUP antagonism are easily recounted especially those of situations put before the pro-union people of collapse of the Union under North South co-operation arrangements.

    Now what do we have today – Ian Paisley Junior apparently coming out to champion co-operation on policing matters, Robinson championing economic co-operation with Ireland.

    If it is true it goes to show that the DUP haven’t one bit of integrity about them especially as they campaigned against any such North/Southery with great animosity not that long ago.

    That’s my point, notwithstanding the sense of such a proposal, but moreso to do with the party now advocating it.

  • Pete Baker


    I don’t disagree with your general point – re: North/South matters.

    But the detail I was referring to wasn’t that this issue couldn’t be addressed at British-Irish Council – it could.

    It’s that Ian Paisley Jnr [as a DUP member] doesn’t have the authority to raise it. Neither does he have that authority currently as a junior minister of the Executive. And if the authority on these issues did reside in the Assembly – which it doesn’t – the Executive, and possibly the Assembly, would have to discuss it first.

    Which raises the question of whether the intention to raise it does actually exist in the first place – either with Ian Paisley Jnr or, on the off-chance someone else in the party knows about it, with the DUP.

  • DC

    Yes understand Pete but the immediate party political impact of such a statement struck me as being contradictory.

    It wouldn’t seem to be a matter for the British Irish Council at all because where does it fit in in terms of BIC remit.

    That’s not to say it couldn’t be raised at that point between the concerned officials, as they would all be there in person but surely they wouldn’t have the necessary authority to discuss those matters there.

    It would be spectacular if it went ahead in any way or form as an official addition to the BIC work programme.

    In terms of protocols, yes if it were to be added to the remit of the BIC it would have to go to the vote in the Assembly, as do expansion of North South matters.

    But the BIC is merely to consult with a view to co-operate with no obligation to instigate any proposals; whereas, the North South MC would have more viable means to execute certain policies as it is tasked to deliver action on areas of agreed co-operation.

    However, it is probably something for an inter-governmental conference with certain relevant ministers holding the sovereign offices sitting down together and thrashing something out.

    It is likely the Irish government will produce a document for British consideration and at that point the First Minister and DFM would be called to attend, on a consultative basis only, although Junior’s influence wouldn’t most certainly not be lost.

  • Pete Baker


    I’ve explained, twice, the point I’m making about the DUP’s lack of authority to make any proposals on this issue. I can do no more.

  • Frank Sinistra


    It was a reserved matter when Alliance raised it, just like sentencing for assaults on emergency staff was a reserved matter when the entire Assembly voted on that one. Just another issue where they are going to others asking them to legislate on their behalf. Paisey’s version of lobbying is just a smaller example of the emergency workers debate and both emphasize the impotency of local politicos on many issues. Tax that’s another one.

    In these instances the Assembly or individuals are just lobbyists. Nothing unique in Paisley doing it.

  • DC

    “But the detail I was referring to wasn’t that this issue couldn’t be addressed at British-Irish Council – it could.”

    Sorry for hogging the post but was responding to that above statement in length mainly on the grounds that it couldn’t be done due to no authority.

    You seem to suggest I agree somewhere that the DUP do have the authority.

  • Pete Baker

    He’s lobbying the wrong body, Frank.

    The immediate authority lies with Paul Goggins – on an issue that the DUP say their community is not ready for responsibility to be held by locally elected politicians.

    And, once again, I’ll point out that the devolved administration is a member of the B-I Council – not the DUP.

  • Pete Baker


    “You seem to suggest I agree somewhere that the DUP do have the authority.”

    Ermm.. sorry if you think that but, no I don’t.

  • Frank Sinistra


    The heads of several governments are represented on the BIC and one its areas of discussion is approaches to Europe. Schengen?

    It seems like the perfect place to raise it if you had the authority to do so and I assume that would require at a minimum Executive support.

    Right place? No authority?

  • Pete Baker

    “Right place? No authority?”

    Indeed, Frank.

    Mr Paisley has no authority to raise the issue at that place at this time. Although he could lobby Mr Goggins right now.

  • Pete Baker


    Although that might not get the headline report on the BBC..

  • DC


    Approaches to EU issues yes, those issues which have already been implemented UK wide, and would need to be matters within the BIC competence.

    So really yes the DUP has no authority as a party but ultimately the BIC has no authority therefore the DUP, the Executive and even the British and Irish governments have no power conferred on them to discuss it there. No authority for anyone under the BIC agenda.

    Policing and EU matters requiring bi-lateral agreements are still to be conducted inside the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference (basically the old Anglo-Irish Agreement protocol slightly re-jigged in that FM and DFM can attend for consultative purposes).

    I would disagree with Pete about even if whether policing was devolved that it still wouldn’t require an intergovernmental agreement to seal it done via BIIC.

    Anyway, that’s my take on it.

  • Pete Baker


    “I would disagree with Pete about even if whether policing was devolved that it still wouldn’t require an intergovernmental agreement to seal it done via BIIC.”

    And where did I say that?

  • DC

    It was taken from your emphasis solely on Goggins as being a key mover on the issue which clearly appears to be both a British and Irish matter.

  • Pete Baker

    That would be Paul Goggins, the NIO Security Minister who – while policing and justice matters remain a reserved matter – is the only individual whom Ian Paisley Jnr should obviously directly lobby on this issue.

    That’s about the chain of responsibility on the actual issue – not what the B-I Council are, or are not, competent to deal with.

  • DC

    Paisley Jnr isn’t that obtuse not realise the fact the DUP has no authority and I reckon he’s conscious of the fact that the Irish government want to get some arrangements in place, not the British government.

    From the news report linked above and the previous statement by Dermot Ahern, the Irish government are keen to draft something and rather than cut a deal over the heads of the DUP, Paisley Jnr wants to be seen to make moves in that direction to claim it in part for the DUP.

    So the BIC is possibly the next appropriate and soonest forum to do so in terms of meeting the officials involved in pulling something like that together.

    Interestingly there’s no place for Goggins on the BIC, which Paisley Jnr is likely aware of, the S of State is there though.

    The impression taken from this all is that the Irish are driving this co-operative approach to policing with the British government, leaving concerns of unionist isolation.

    The Irish Goverment will likely liaise with the British PM and SoS for NI and Goggins may deliver on but will not be the key framer by any means.

    I await in anticipation for Goggins being contacted directly by the Irish government and any potential lobbying to him by Paisley Jnr paying off as a result.