The Newsletter is carrying its report of an interview it has conducted with Martin McGuinness. In this interview he claims the DUP had agreed to the devolution of policing and justice and that he does not know whether or not the IRA army council still exists.From the interview report:
Mr McGuinness claimed that the DUP had promised him, personally, that it was committed to transferring the powers in line with the date, envisaged by the St Andrews Agreement, of May this year.
More specifically, he recalled “a conversation that I had with Ian Paisley Jnr, Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds in this very building [Stormont Castle] on the Saturday before the March 26 [2007 the day Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams announced a devolution deal], when I put to them that it was very, very important that people stood by the commitments that were made in the St Andrews Agreement and was told by the DUP that they would do that.
Obviously, that specified that powers should be transferred by May of this year.
Everybody left St Andrews on the basis that the date for the transfer of policing and justice powers was May this year.”
In the same report the DUP has flatly denied McGuinnesss claims:
“At no time during the meeting (March 24, 2007] did any DUP representative give a commitment to devolve policing and justice powers by May 2008.
At that meeting it was articulated that the DUP would stand by any commitment made at St Andrews. At no time during or after St Andrews did the DUP make a commitment to devolve policing and justice powers within the Government timetable.
The St Andrews Agreement and the May 2008 date are products of British and Irish governments. At no time has the DUP ever signed up to the St Andrews Agreement or the May 2008 date.
This position was openly expressed by Mr Paisley during the Press conference following St Andrews.
Whilst the DUP favours the devolution of policing and justice powers, we have stated in our manifesto and in other public comments that the confidence does not exist to support any move.”
On the subject of the IRA army council McGuinness reportedly said this:
“I do not know if it [the Army Council] does exist or not.”
He explained that over the last year “all of my focus and all of my meetings have been on the work of government” and “I have not had any cause whatsoever to be in touch with the IRA over the course of the recent while”.