May deadline for justice devolution is fantasy…

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey will be telling Inside Politics (Radio Ulster 12.45pm) how the Dromore by-election will have an effect on the devolution of policing and justice. While the May date always seemed another of these ‘targets’ that there was no real chance of meeting, the DUP can now do exactly what Sinn Fein used to do to good effect in negotiations – and claim that the need to ‘keep their people on board’ while hardliners or dissidents are in a position to exercise influence outweighs the need to move forward quickly. Naturally, the Government will accept that there will be a certain amount of ‘slippage’ – it gave SF time when it needed it in the past, and the now-sanitised party in no longer in any position to issue threats.

  • perci

    all very true, just one thing missing.
    SF can make a big song and dance about disbanding the IRA, size the day, and rise to a crescendo.

    This will also mean the quinn murder is dealt with, and SF take an irreversible step into the unknown, be lauded and feted as true heroes of peace and reconciliation; and yes devolution of policing and justice will happen by May.
    It’d be like a Xmas present for the whole of Ireland.

  • joeCanuck

    To be followed with a Nobel Peace prize for Gerry and Ian?

  • joeCanuck

    Sir Reg predicts that the DUP won’t let it happen. But do we have an official UUP position? Do they think that May 1 is acceptable?

  • perci

    haha joeCanuck

    More likely is SF will seek to exploit the Unionist vote, and may figure that with the TUV splitting the DUP and UUP they can make gains in future elections; whilst holding onto their last card, that of the IRA council.

    This is a failed strategy as the FF are set to head North, which will further split their own vote.

    Also what will Gerry have to offer his supporters? Nothing, no devolution of P&J;, only promises.

  • joeCanuck

    I must admit to not understanding the concern of some unionists over this issue.
    For the first time ever (I believe) in the history of N.I., operational control of the police is firmly in the hands of the Chief Constable alone.
    What harm could be done by, say, having a SF Minister of P&J;? Cross Community provisions would obviously prevent any meddling with current provisions of the law.
    What am I missing?

  • George

    Would your average Joe Nationalist really care if justice was devolved a little later than planned?

    Outside of Northern Ireland, everyone thinks the deal is done and things like this are just dotting the Is and crossing the Ts.

    So what if the DUP waits until 2009 or even 2010? It’s hardly going to do any damage to Sinn Féin. In fact, it’s more likely to be used by them to their advantage.

  • Chessman

    Perci’s missing piece of the jigsaw may not that be that far away as the Shinners are already gearing up for May (or shortly afterwards). Watch their Ard Fhéis on the first weekend of March which, Adams told the party at a recent gathering in Letterkenny, will be followed by a series of “town-hall meetings” throughout April. These will be similar to the public meetings held in December 06 and January last year in the run-up to Ard Fheis vote supporting policing. What’s the betting that April’s meetings will be part of a softening up of their supporters prior to (or maybe after – Easter is early this year) yet another ‘historic’ announcement by the ubiquitous P O’Neill?

  • joeCanuck

    Joe Nationalist

    That’s not me btw.

  • perci

    chessman could be , could be. Also they could get themselves over to Newry on the 20th Feb this month and do some listening, before April.

  • joeCanuck

    20 Feb.
    If they stay up ’til the wee hours on 21st, they can watch a lunar eclipse.

  • perci

    indeed events dear boy events as macmillan said.

    Debate in Stormont on Tuesday 19th Feb on paul quinn murder, meeting in Newry Town Hall by the Support Group on the 20th, and yes this lunar eclipse on the 21st.
    Is this the big red moon which traditionally augurs great change?

  • “operational control of the police is firmly in the hands of the Chief Constable alone.”

    Perhaps notionally, Joe, but you’d need to see his terms of employment. I would expect that when the two Governments say JUMP he jumps. Afterall, how do you expect the boys and girls in the BIIC JS bunker spend their time?

  • lib2016


    There have been many suggestions that Orde is ehm- connected to MI5. In any event the security services in Britain are openly running that country from their palace on the Thames and the Northern Ireland situation has been sorted out at an international level far above the party in-fighting at Westminister.

    If any single government says ‘Jump’ it will be based in Washington.

  • joeCanuck

    Have you seen the latest Junior woes, Nevin?

  • Buggerhed

    “So what if the DUP waits until 2009 or even 2010? It’s hardly going to do any damage to Sinn Féin. In fact, it’s more likely to be used by them to their advantage. ”

    Quite apt. 2009/2010/2011 will all probably have elections for something or other.
    It would be awful nice of the DUP to give thier friends in Sinn Fein/IRA such kudos to put on their literature.

  • Truth & Justice

    The DUP has already said the transfer of devolution and justice was not happening so what reg on about.

  • joeCanuck

    Wouldn’t local responsibility allow more pressure to be put on the CC to redouble their efforts to solve the Paul Quinn murder.
    I know that the murder was carried out in the republic but it’s likely that there was a conspiracy to do it in S.A.

  • rj

    T&J;is right: UUP is irrelevant on devolution of justice. If DUP and SF agree it happens, if not it doesn’t. That’s Assembly voting for you.

    I thought the more relevant bit of the programme was the questioning on where UUP was going, even whether the Dromore result was a victory for Basil, rather than Reg. Was he a bit touchy, perhaps?

  • New Yorker


    You asked: “What harm could be done by, say, having a SF Minister of P&J;? Cross Community provisions would obviously prevent any meddling with current provisions of the law.
    What am I missing?” It might be a case of putting the fox in the hen house. ‘The excise boys will be in your area next Tuesday, you know what to do lads.’ In some respects it could be similar to having the mafia in the FBI. It is best to have administrators of criminal justice above suspicion. Do you see the possible harm?

  • joeCanuck

    And they’re not being given that information right now?
    That’s why there are so many arrests and when they come to see Slab, his tea is warm on the table, his soda is half eaten, and there’s no sign of him.

  • Belfast Gonzo


    Reg did seem a tad reluctant to praise Basil on IP!

  • New Yorker


    You are right in that there seem to be someone passing information to them on both sides of the border. Devolution of policing might greatly increase the amount of information passed to the wrong people. The poor fella did not get to finish his breakfast that day but they got evidence they were after. He has been watched carefully for a long time. I doubt he’ll be jetting to a holiday in Bulgaria anytime soon.

  • Pete Baker

    Whilst it’s true that the DUP can now point to some evidence that there isn’t sufficient support for the devolution of policing and justice powers, the idea that May 2008 represented some kind of enforceable deadline has always been a fantasy.

    The key point to note is who has been peddling that fantasy.

  • T.Ruth

    I could not understand Empey’s concentration on the Policing and Justice issue. The by election which the Unionist candidate won was serious news for the DUP but will not impact significantly on the Policing and Justice issue. The devolution of P and J is not written in stone anywhere.2008 was always aspirational for Blair and Brown. It will happen when the DUP is satisfied that sufficient confidence exists within the Unionist community.
    SF will first persuade the IRA to disband; the PSNI will be suitably resourced; evidence to convict the guilty will be made available regarding a number of murders on both sids;the startegy to destroy Orange Halls will cease; the strategy to create interface violence and limit the political,religious and cultural rights of the Orange and Black Institutions will be ended. In addition Westminster will deliver a better economic package-“Peace Dividend” than it has to date.
    Allister has sent a message to the DUP that it needs to bring its electorate with it politically and concentrate more on improving the lot of disadvantaged communities. All Unionists find it sickening that McGuiness is part of the Executive.But remember, It was Empey’s party which put him there and put an armed Sinn Fein/IRA into power on three occasions.Allister is interested only in retaining his seat in Europe and he was testing that in the by election. His cynicism and betrayal of Northern Ireland Unionism will not be forgotten. When next he is banished to the political backwoods he will become a forgotten man like Trimble-who also put self before party and country.The DUP did a great job at St.Andrew’s and they need to spell out to Unionists that Republicanism gained nothing for inflicting forty years of pain and suffering on us all. We could have been where we are now politically in the early seventies.Allister has no plan for the future. It is people like him who want to take us back to the past.If he divides Unionism he will assist Republicanism to prosper.


  • Ian


    It is curious that you are so obsessed with pointing out that there is no enforceable deadline for devolution of justice powers.

    You seem less keen on emphasising the reality that nor is there an enforceable deadline for disbandment of the IRA Army Council!

  • Ian

    I suspect that SF’s rank and file will be rather more patient with any delay in devolving justice, than the DUP grassroots will with the continued existence of the AC.

  • Mick Fealty


    That would be where the bloody nose in Dromore came from. But if you read the analysis from Fair Deal and Turgon it also points to other problems. Not least that old one of not sufficiently preparing the base.

    As for AC disbandment and devolution of P&J;, that looks like a quid pro quo both will have to live with.

    In Pete’s defence though, we have several politicians on record as treating the timetable as a deadline. None, to my knowledge claimed there was ever anything like a timetable, never mind a deadline, for AC disbandment. Whatever promises where made behind the scenes, it looks SF were ‘Trimbled’ on that one. That’s one chapter of recent history that the DUP seem to have learned well from.

    That said, my guess is that SF has probably taken the hits they are going to over that. This is a new game, being played (mostly) by new rules.

  • Ian

    “As for AC disbandment and devolution of P&J;, that looks like a quid pro quo both will have to live with.”

    The point I’ve been trying to get across recently on Slugger is that it’s not a question of ‘having to live with it’. [i]Both[/i] developments will benefit [i]both[/i] parties, and the communities they represent.

    Political Unionism’s attitude that they [i]must[/i] resist devolution of P&J;, because SF are in favour of it, is childish, short-sighted and does their own electorate a disservice. Begging for crumbs to drop painfully slowly from the British Government’s legislative table (e.g. abolition of automatic 50% remission for serious offenders) can’t be good for Unionism’s self-esteem.

    Likewise, SF’s electoral growth in the south is stunted by the continued existence of the AC and the [i]perception[/i] of what they might still be up to. Since in the SF narrative they aren’t actually up to anything any more, there is much to be gained and little to be lost by disbandment, and they should see beyond the fact that Unionism demands it.

    It’s a win-win scenario for both sides, surely?