Whilst the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister has claimed, inaccurately, that his party’s major partners in the mandatory coalition had promised to devolve policing and justice powers by the target date of May – and in the absence of a Plan B there may well be internal party reasons behind his claims – the NI Secretary of State, Paul Goggins, MP, is at least making a case for the devolution of those powers. From the NIO statement
Addressing delegates at the PSNIs Superintendents Association Annual Conference, the minister [Paul Goggins] said that policies to tackle the wide range of policing and justice issues cannot be developed in isolation and that he hoped that next year, a locally elected and accountable justice minister will attend the conference.
He said: There has to be a joined up approach across Government to tackle crime and make our streets safer. The police cannot achieve this in isolation and so need to work in partnership with the local community.
Thats why the devolution of policing and justice is so important. These crucial areas of responsibility cannot be separated from wider social and economic policies.
The remaining challenge is to build on the growing public support and confidence in local political leadership and deliver the final stage of devolution by transferring policing and justice powers to the Assembly.
Although, as he has already shown, consultation with the Assembly on non-devolved matters is possible.
And there is partnership, of sorts, with local communities.
One more point to note, as detailed here, the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis at the end of February this year passed this motion
This Ard Fheis mandates the Ard Chomhairle to set out, in public, the partys position in relation to our involvement in the current policing structures should the British Government fail to devolve policing and justice powers by the 8th May 2008.
What’s the date again?