“focused on ensuring that the British government honours the public commitment..”

Given the row at the Policing Board the other day, it’s an interesting time to be talking, again, about “control of policing and justice”. Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams has been briefing his party’s “collective leadership” – as identified by Fionnuala O’Connor – on the prospect of the devolution of policing and justice powers. From Adams’ statement

“At this time Sinn Fein is particularly focused on ensuring that the British government honours the public commitment to transfer powers on policing and justice away from London and into the hands of locally elected politicians.”

Except that, as Northern Ireland Secretary of State Shaun Woodward said yesterday [pdf file]

“The British Government have kept their word. We have prepared the institutions ready for transfer in May this year. We stand ready to hand over responsibility for criminal justice and policing to politicians elected in Northern Ireland.”

And he’s right. The next step is up to the holders of the Office of the First and deputy First Ministers.. But, as the target date of May approaches, there may be other concerns for Gerry Adams..Shaun Woodward also referenced public opinion in his speech – by which I assume he means this NIO poll. [I’ll also note that the BBC’s Jim Fitzpatrick subsequently acknowledged the error I pointed to in that post]

But, as I’ve mentioned previously, and might as well again

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.”

And a reminder of the DUP’s opinion on this

While it would seem foolish for republicans to accept the outlandish boasts and rhetoric of the Sinn Fein leadership when playing to their base and not see through them, it would be even more foolish for unionists to fall into the trap of believing them.

, , , ,

  • joeCanuck

    “The British Government have kept their word. We have prepared the institutions ready for transfer in May this year. We stand ready to hand over responsibility for criminal justice and policing to politicians elected in Northern Ireland.”

    Hehehe. Those British are damned clever. There must have been a smirk on someone’s face when that statement was drafted; thinking of the continuing brouhaha over the lack of decommissioning by the IRA and Adams being able to say “Hey, we did what was required of us in the GFA agreement which was just to do our best to persuade the IRA to do it – SF has no weapons.”

    BTW, Pete going by the lack of comments, this theme may have passed its best by date. Or is it just the usual slow weekend?

  • Pete Baker

    Joe

    Slow weekend? Probably.

    Other posts where it’s easier for commenters to adopt all-too-familiar positions? Again, Probably.

    Nothing to argue with in the post itself…

    Btw. Don’t mistake the number of comments for anything other than a number of comments.

    This issue hasn’t gone away you know. ;o)

  • IJP

    I’m all for transfer of powers as soon as practicably possible, but…

    “At this time Sinn Fein is particularly focused on ensuring that the British government honours the public commitment to transfer powers on policing and justice away from London and into the hands of locally elected politicians.”

    Is that the same British government which, according to SF, should legislate on an Irish Language Act and a Bill of Rights over the heads of locally elected politicians?

  • Pete Baker

    Indeed, IJP.

    Although in the particular cases you’ve mentioned it would be on issues already devolved.

    Whereas on policing and justice powers, the issue has not yet been devolved.

    I’d suggest that if the British Government were allowed or encouraged to decide on what to do, in either examples, it would be a constitutional nonsense.

    As the government have already acknowledged themselves.

  • Is Adams praying for a lifeline from Robinson and the mystic power of the patriot dead? Will he get much change out of the other Brothers Grim, Brown and Cowen?

  • Ian

    Three points:

    (1) This argument that “Well SF got away with delaying decommissioning for years”… That may have been to the detriment of the UUP, but the DUP in fact were one of the biggest beneficiaries of the IRA’s protracted decommissioning process. You could argue that the DUP owe SF a favour… But it shouldn’t be about the zero sum game of Unionist vs. Nationalist gains. Which brings me onto:

    (2) The Chucklers are hosting a major investment conference next month, with 50 US companies coming over to see whether NI is a stable environment to invest money into. Now what would be the best way to encourage them that that is the case? By continuing to display the old inward-looking Unionist attitudes, “SF want devolved policing therefore we don’t”? Or by showing off the more confident Unionism that the DUP [i]claim[/i] to represent, a powerful symbol of which would be to forge an agreement with SF with regards to the timetable for completing the devolution process?

  • Ian

    (3) With regards to the Irish Language Act issue, would Unionists really be that upset if the British Government imposed in by an act of parliament?

    It strikes me as a win-win scenario. Nationalists get their ILA; Unionists get to gloat that SF have succeeded in proving that Parliament is sovereign.