“Since the Committee was unable to reach consensus..”

I mapped out the background to this last night, including why Sinn Féin continue to maintain that May 2008 was a commitment to a deadline rather than the target date the St Andrew’s Agreement describes, but as expected the Assembly and Executive Review Committee has failed to agree on a date for requesting the devolution of policing and justice powers. I’m assuming the Assembly debate has ended, but there isn’t a record of the vote yet. Adds The full debate and resolution of the Assembly to accept the report is here – Interestingly the report was also commended to the House by the deputy chairman of the committee, Sinn Féin MLA, Raymond McCartney. – From the Committee’s report

Issue 5: Timing of the devolution of policing and justice matters
68. The political parties represented on the Committee had different views on the timing of devolution of policing and justice matters, and given those diverse opinions, the Committee was unable to reach consensus on this issue.

69. Since the Committee was unable to reach consensus on the timing of devolution of policing and justice matters, and this report includes recommendations about further political negotiations, the Committee was unable to reach a conclusion as to whether the Assembly will make a request for the transfer of policing and justice matters before 1 May 2008.

Recommendation 41
The Committee recommends that the political parties commit to further discussions to agree when a request might be made for the devolution of policing and justice matters.

The Irish Times report notes that it isn’t the only issue they failed to agree on

While the British and Irish Governments will be disappointed but not surprised that the committee has been unable to agree to the transfer by May 1st, they will take heart from the report’s call for more talks.

Officials in London and Dublin will also take comfort that committee members were able to agree on some of the mechanics of policing and justice devolution.

MLAs considered four ministerial models for a single policing and justice department.

These were:

A department with a single minister in charge;
Two ministers of joint and equal standing running the department;
A policing and justice department with a minister and junior minister at the helm, with the positions rotated;
A department with a minister and deputy minister nominated by an MLA and drawn from the two largest parties from the unionist and nationalist traditions.

However, they were unable to settle on a preferred model and arrangements for choosing a minister or ministers and called for the talks to resolve these issues.

Adds Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, MP, is optimistic..

Shaun Woodward said: “Progress is being made on the devolution of policing and justice.

“Our polling makes it clear that the majority of people in Northern Ireland want this to happen and the Chief Constable, the person responsible for delivering policing on the ground, has also said that powers should be devolved.

“I welcome the publication of the Committee report and the debate in the Assembly.

“The report contains clear decisions about structures and what powers will be devolved.

“It also calls on political parties to meet to discuss outstanding issues to complete devolution and the Government stands ready to facilitate these talks.”

That would be this poll..

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