“devolution of Policing and Justice Powers by May 2008 was central to the decision of republicans..”

According to the Work Plan Timeline, the Assembly & Executive Review Committee’s Inquiry on Devolution of Policing and Justice was due to consider the first draft of their report today. Instead of which they heard from the Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, and, separately, from NIO officials. Interestingly, as a previous statement points out, officials from the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister were also scheduled to attend.. but didn’t appear.. In any event there wasn’t anything startling from Hugh Orde although some of those pot-holes were mentioned by committee members.. as well as one or two other concerns. The PSNI is ready for the devolution of those powers, but the timing is a matter for others was his message. He was also keen to emphasise the need to clearly define the relationship between him, the Northern Ireland Policing Board and a new Assembly justice and policing committee. Meanwhile, if it’s not Alex Maskey being thoroughly baffled, it’s another Sinn Féin MLA.From the statement by Assembly & Executive Review Committee member, SF’s Carál Ní Chuilín.

“The devolution of Policing and Justice was a key element in the negotiations that led to the restoration of the political institutions.

The British government’s commitment to the devolution of Policing and Justice Powers by May 2008 was central to the decision of republicans and nationalists to engage with the policing structures earlier this year. [added emphasis]

“There can be no back-sliding on this commitment. There can be no more excuses.”

What commitment was that again?

The British government? Once more then.. That was a target date not a deadline.. as has been made abundantly clear several times.

No back-sliding?

If Sinn Féin had been paying attention they’d know what even the current Northern Ireland Secretary of State knows – “It is for the parties to decide when the time is right..”

Of course the apparent confusion among Sinn Fein MLAs is necessary because the leadership told the party membership that, rather than the previous internal party arrangement, the leadership would only commit the party to supporting the police and the criminal justice system under certain conditions

“That this Ard Fheis endorses the Ard Chomhairle motion. That the Ard Chomhairle is mandated to implement this motion only when the power-sharing institutions are established and when the Ard Chomhairle is satisfied that the policing and justice powers will be transferred. Or if this does not happen within the St Andrews timeframe, only when acceptable new partnership arrangements to implement the Good Friday Agreement are in place.” [added emphasis]

The reality is that devolution of policing and justice powers can only happen following a joint request from the First and deputy First Ministers, confirmed by a vote in the Assembly, and agreed by Parliament.

Imposing those powers against the wishes of the Assembly would be a “constitutional nonsense” – and, importantly, “it is not the intention—nor is the power available to the Government—to do that.”

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  • perci

    good grief that must’ve taken several hours to design; in a second I can let you into a secret.
    Its called playing politics. Shock horror. Move on !

  • Rory

    Don’t be cruel, Perci. Our man Pete serves us very well with his meticulous cross-references. Any detection of a cultural taint of hard-line Old Testament literalism within his informative pedantry may be merely your own prejudicial observation of a fleeting moment of paradigm.

    Such rare moments are best treasured especially since we are least capable of detecting those shifts within our own selves. (Cue for Rabbie Burns….)

  • Rory


    Happy New Year, Pete. Keep it coming.

  • slug

    “That was a target date not a deadline.. as has been made abundantly clear several times.”

    Personally I do owe it to you Pete for keeping me informed of the detail of what actually was committed to at times like this. Thanks.

  • perci

    Rory I know but we had it all all last year in the run up to power-sharing post SF policing Ard Fheis.

    Its so goddamn vital an issue we simply don’t need the sneering at Alex Maskey and so on and so on. peteb knows exactly what he’s doing.

    I strongly oject. ok then!

  • Dewi

    “…..sensed the powers could be devolved by October instead of the British Government`s target date of May.”

    That from Orde. Watched October’s ILA debate on BBC Parliament the other day (sad geek I know) but the impression from Unionists of “We are in charge, know your place” came across strongly. Vital to all that the P&J;part works – last thing that process needs is for Unionists to be seen as blockers.

  • perci

    Rory, more an Eliot man meself; if I’m guilty of anything it would be “impatient to assume the world”

    From Preludes 1917

    and eyes
    Assured of certain certainties,
    The conscience of a blackened street
    Impatient to assume the world.

    I am moved by fancies that are curled
    Around these images, and cling:
    The notion of some infinitely gentle
    Infinitely suffering thing.

    Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
    The worlds revolve like ancient women
    Gathering fuel in vacant lots.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Puzling why DUP would shift of this – are Euro elections not in the offing – obvious gift for anti agreement untionists.

    Also puzzling why SF should trust DUP to deliver on this when not in DUP interest.

    Suspicion must be the SF expect the governement to at least try to embarass DUP in some way. My understanding from reading the above is that the P&J;department can be set up in Non Iron in advance of transfer of powers to it – this might
    be what will happen in May.

    Also possibe deal between DUP and SF right to march swap for right to apppoint judges.

    It will take some geting used to the boy Mc Guinenss at the passing out parade for the funny guys with wigs. Bring it on.

  • Rory


    For that impatience “which assumes the world” I would be last to condemn you. In my youth it was not merely an itch – it was a compelling moral imperative.

    Now, in age, I assume nothing but patiently wait while having least time to wait. Which makes me wonder if it may be that the young demand all fulfillment of the just dreams of youth out of their kindness that old men may yet see their own once youthful dreams realised before their time is run.

  • The Dubliner

    If McGuinness doesn’t open the three locks on the policing chastity belt by the deadline (thanks to Paisley keeping his key in his garter belt), I suspect that the next time we see the Chuckle Brothers in public only one of them will be chuckling.

  • New Yorker

    Formally putting the fox in the hen house is brilliant statesmanship. I’m sure Paul Quinn would approve if the fox had not put him down.

  • The Dubliner

    Rory, as ‘eyes’ were a theme in Eliot, here is how he might have concluded your predictament:

    Eyes that last I saw in tears
    Through division
    Here in death’s dream kingdom
    The golden vision reappears
    I see the eyes but not the tears
    This is my affliction

    This is my affliction
    Eyes I shall not see again
    Eyes of decision
    Eyes I shall not see unless
    At the door of death’s other kingdom
    Where, as in this,
    The eyes outlast a little while
    A little while outlast the tears
    And hold us in derision.

    In isn’t a happy resolution to a revolution, alas.

  • Joejoe

    The Shinners have got themselves in a mess over both the irish language act and the devolution of policing and justice powers. They didnt seem to recognise the difference between rock solid legislation and aspirational language!

  • Rory

    I was horrified, Dubliner on listening to the final of Radio4’s Brain of Britain to discover that between them the four finalists could only recall (and with some difficulty) the titles of two of the poems that make up Four QuartetsEast Coker and Little Gidding.

    Indeed apart from This is the way the world ends/not with a bang but a whimper I find that Eliot is almost absent from the popular imagination. For this I blame the relentless over-analysis of his work in schools and colleges which deterred generations from simply enjoying him. That dread phrase “appreciation” has much to answer for.

  • Thanks Pete, for highlighting that SF attempts to rewrite history are not limited to redefining the troubles as a war but stretch right up to last year. If a story suits their agenda, why let facts get in the way?

  • Twinbrook

    Every side in this conflict is guily of Selective memory loss when it comes to History….

  • Every side in this conflict is guily of Selective memory loss when it comes to History….’


    This is true, but only SF demand it of their own supporters.


  • Ian

    “Puzzling why DUP would shift on this – are Euro elections not in the offing – obvious gift for anti agreement unionists.”

    The DUP might shift on devolution of justice if it was traded off with the disbandment of the Army Council, which would provide a nice electoral boost to them (at the expense of the Prodiban).

    It’s the obvious deal to be made, but here’s the thing – BOTH things need to happen TO THE BENEFIT OF BOTH PARTIES. The Provos are currently a millstone around SF’s neck in terms of electoral growth in the south; the DUP would rather gain control over things like sentencing policy (e.g. 50% remission) than wait for crumbs from the SoS’s table.

    So both parties should stop faffing about and get on with making the deal.

  • ulsterfan

    Devolution in place of Army Council disbandment is not a good deal for Unionists who will hold out for something more substantive.
    SF still have to prove their commitment to law and order and this can best be shown by helping the police to get convictions for the McCartney and Quinn murders amongst other things as part of building confidence.
    They are still a long way off

  • lib2016

    Whatever the details turn out to be one can be sure that the outlines of the deal have already been worked out between the parties i.e. Sinn Fein and the two sovereign governments, backed by America.

    Unionists who claim to have a veto are deluding themselves. Their strengths were the power of the loyalist mob and their usefulness to the British Conservative Party at Westminster.

    Both have vanished, though the OO still seems to think it can threaten retaliation and get away with it.

    Upset Westminster again by delaying progress and there will again be a price to pay – be that in an even more radically reorganised local government structure or in local funding or wherever else your masters choose.

    Spongers can’t be choosers.

  • ulsterfan

    When devolution does not take place this year I wonder what excuse Sf will offer to their long suffering supporters who do not know if they are coming or going whilst looking over their shoulders at disillusioned republicans and seeing the once hoped for Republic disappear into the past and soon forgotten.

  • lib2016

    Devolution has already happened. What we are talking about now is when and how devolution will be extended to include policing and the criminal justice system.

    If you have any information relating to that we would all be interested in hearing it.

    At least try to pretend that you are following the grownup’s conversation…..

  • ulsterfan


    Devolution HAS not taken place and there are areas where it will never take place which goes to show who is in charge of this part of the island of Ireland.
    The British will give to us what they want and Reserve to themselves the important matters such as SOVEREIGNITY. As s Unionist I have no problems on this score.
    The P&J;will only come with consensus which may take some time.