“and that he hoped that next year..”

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 PSNI’s 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.

“That’s 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 party’s 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?

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  • Steve

    Pete you were at the meetings?

    Because obviously that allows you the clairovoyance to tell us which party is being innaccurate

  • Pete Baker

    Actually, Steve, I’ve assumed that Martin McGuinness’ claim about what Ian junior said at that meeting is accurate.

    But “stand[ing] by St Andrews” doesn’t mean what Martin says it means – i.e. promising to devolve those policing and justice powers by that target date.

  • Steve

    Aww but you basicsally called Marty a liar based on your assumptions. Assumptions that do not have any basis in fact in either direction

  • Pete Baker

    Look again, Steve.

  • Steve

    Pete
    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

    Pete this is YOUR classic, imply with out stating, double speak saying that Marty was lying.

    If he claimed it and he is inaccurate then he is lying.

    The facts simply do not bear this out!

    The facts are only that Marty or baby doc is lying. I dont attribvute the ability to tell the truth to any politician based on party membership. You have assumed that unionism = truth

    But don’t forget baby doc has form on this

  • Northsider

    It’s funny, but there are very, very few posters on Slugger who are nationalist. Even less republican.

    I wonder why that is?

    Maybe Turgon, Pete Baker and Fair Deal can advise.

    Strange the way things iterate on the web.

    Oh well, bye-ee!

  • Pete Baker

    “If he claimed it and he is inaccurate then he is lying.

    The facts simply do not bear this out!”

    The facts are what the links are there to assist with, Steve.

    Like this one.

    Or do you also not read my linked posts on principle?

    “The facts are only that Marty or baby doc is lying.”

    No. I’ve already said that I accept that Ian junior said that the DUP would stand by St Andrews, as claimed by Martin [the DUP do not contest that], but that doesn’t mean what Martin claims it means.

    On that point, his interpretation of ‘standing by St Andrews’, he is inaccurate.

    Why he has been inaccurate on that point is a different matter.

  • Steve

    I dont read your linked posts because it would take me 3 hours to chase all the links around to try to make sense of your initial post which I have lost interest by then.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Pete,

    The DUP are now out of step with the other main parties to the STA i.e. the British and Irish Governments and SF. The British have already begun to put pressure on the DUP by suggesting the age of consent will be lowered unless the Justice powers are transferred to Stormont.

    So when Marty says it is a deadline he is the correct in that there are consequences for those not meeting it – namely the DUP – though the British seem loathe to admit this therby keeping up the pretence that it is a target date.

  • Pete Baker

    “So when Marty says it is a deadline..”

    That’s not what Martin’s saying – see above.

    Is it May 8th yet?

  • Steve

    Further to your question before… I think if you polled the poster few if any follow your incessant links. Links lead to links that lead to links and your point is quite often lost in the process.

    Links can be effective but there shouldnt be 20 of them in a single post and links are never effective when the libnk is the basis of your post. If we don’t follow the link then your post has no meaning

  • Cahal

    I second Steve’s post. Baker’s buck shot approach to blogging is too hard to follow – especially when the story (buried in there somewhere) is often quite tedious anyway. Don’t get me started on Turgon’s tripe. Fair deal, George and gonzo need to get blogging more often.

  • Damian O’Loan

    If you can’t take the time to follow a few links, you certainly won’t keep up with the deception and spin that is part and parcel of government across the world – and that shows in the arguments against. If you follow the threads a little it’s usually obvious where the links are going anyway.

    At least this blogger doesn’t feel; the need to use; semi-colons; inappropriately; to make his points seem; more insightful.

  • Cahal, northsider and others complain that there is not enough from the nationalist side to balance the unionist leaning contributions on this blog. Some have gone as far as to say it is a unionist blog pure and simple. Of course others go the other way and claim it’s infested by fenians. As a republican I find the blog all the more interesting in that many of the posters and bloggers are from the other side. I think at the moment most of the blogs are from a unionist viewpoint but so what?
    Btw Pete, May 8th is (in fact) today 😉

  • Cahal

    UlstermanIrelandfan,

    I couldn’t give a shite if this blog was run by the Orange Order.

    My point was that Baker’s efforts are unreadable (avoid any blog which has a title in quotation marks) and Turgon’s attempts are amateurish and sickeningly self depracating.

    Isn’t fair deal a unionist – i quite enjoy his efforts – straight to the point with a useful link. As are Georges and Gonzo’s. Micks are also readable.

    Why do you automatically assume I am complaing about a lack of Nationalist bloggers? I guess there are but so what?

  • Comrade Stalin

    In defense of Turgon, his contributions consistently result in the most lively threads. That’s not consistent with the idea that he blogs nothing other than “tripe”.

    Why are you guys bitching about the absence of nationalist bloggers ? Is it because you only want to see articles which give you that nice reassuring feeling of having your tribal identity confirmed ? Let’s face it, the unionist contributors here challenge your view of the world, and you just don’t like it.

  • PSNI Paddy

    “It’s funny, but there are very, very few posters on Slugger who are nationalist. Even less republican.”

    It looks like Wilson’s “spongers” have firmed entrenched themselves in the silly service where they have not else to do all day but fight phantom battles on Slugger while the Fenians are out working.

  • Lenin

    Stalin

    Let’s face it, the unionist contributors here challenge your view of the world, and you just don’t like it.

    That’s not really it Stalin. It’s not liked because anytime a nationalist or republican raises their head to challenge something they get shouted down by a barrage of ignorant and idiotic posts. Far from challenging a view of the world, many nationalists like me who infrequently read this Blog have better things to do and are happy to leave the unionist knuckle-draggers to out do each other with the bigoted cheerleading.

  • Quizdaemon

    Funny that you claim nationalists are shouted down on this blog Lenin. Every time Pete Baker makes to post I can name you atleast five nationalist bloggers here who will immediately come on and claim that black was white just because Pete is the originator of the topic.

    As neither a Nationalist nor a Unionists I’ve noticed more and more recently the rank paranoia regarding anyone who has a different opinion in this place. Infamy, infamy, they all have it in for me.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Personally being of the Nationalist/Republican Lite persuasion myself I would far rather hear opinions which are different to mind that ones that I agree with and Turgon’s literary and historical allusions certainly lighten up the debate – which if we are honest probably hinges on a limited number of core arguments.

    It would be interesting though if some of Non Iron’s burgeoning immigrant community (enter Prodski and Fenianski) could be enticed to offer their opinions though I suspect the issues that they are more interested in are less constitutional in nature.

  • Mick Fealty

    Okay, a recap.

    Martin has said that the DUP (specifically, Ian Paisley Junior) told him they would uphold the SAA. That certainly could be accurate.

    The inaccurate part (which doesn’t make it a lie btw, it could just be poorly wrought analysis on the part of DFM and many of his senior party colleagues) is the assertion that the St Andrew’s Agreement includes devolution of policing and justice powers by today. This may be what Mr McGuinness hopes/believes, but it is not strictly true. It is however a clever play on semantics.

    The exact terms of the legislation, clarified in the House of Commons debate that brought the Act into legislation and later clarified by successive Secretaries of State, plainly requires cross community assent before P&J;powers are devolved by today (or indeed any subsequent date).

    The St Andrew’s Agreement certainly commits the DUP and others to the devolution of those powers, but there is no enforceable deadline for it. The only reason this keeps coming back over and over again is the party’s own ‘misunderstanding’ of legislation that is itself wide open to public scrutiny.

    This is a royal pain for Sinn Fein, since from today the leadership is bound to clarify to its members just what the party’s position now that timetable has failed. Yet, it is also the price it bound to pay for bouncing the body of the party into a decision that many were (at best) uneasy about taking.

    It is disingenuous for anyone to claim that, in itself, it is anyone else’s problem than Sinn Fein’s.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Mick,

    While I almost agree with your analysis, I think that it misses a few points.

    I would suggest that most republicans realise that the DUP are stalling to keep their hardline voters onboard. This is illustrated by the non-response and collective silence following the Quinn murder, and the IMC-lite response. Which certainly makes Dodds’ PMQ on the issue look like grandstanding, but provides reassurance for those reluctant to powershare.

    For their part, although their language has been deliberately misleading, the SF motion that allowed devolution did not promise a May deadline – and that is the crux of the problem for their detractors. Their voters will not wait forever, but certainly discontent will go largely unreported. My guess is, following a form of academic selection being introduced reasonably soon, we’ll see movement on the P & J issue.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m not so sure that is so precisely instrumental as that Damian. It’s not just the hardliners that this goes down well with.

    However you interpret the IMC report on the Quinn killing, this is a substantial figleave (if you like) that allows the party to point to their continuing scepticism about the Republican movement’s capacity to steer cleanly into the new peaceful democratic era, whilst articulating a positive belief in the direction of travel.

    SF seems to be convinced that the DUP is amenable to a nice little tit for tat over education. In fact, if that is what’s been going on, such a strategy may have proved much more toxic to former than the latter.

  • kensei

    This is a royal pain for Sinn Fein, since from today the leadership is bound to clarify to its members just what the party’s position now that timetable has failed. Yet, it is also the price it bound to pay for bouncing the body of the party into a decision that many were (at best) uneasy about taking.

    It is disingenuous for anyone to claim that, in itself, it is anyone else’s problem than Sinn Fein’s.

    Part of the problem is that there is a good case for devolving these powers but SF isn’t making it. They should have concrete policies they want to implement but are blocked by the lack of powers. Given the problems in West Belfast, they should be able to produce at least 3 policies (if not 10) that make it very difficult for the DUP to oppose without then being hammered for being “soft on crime”. Hell, every time the DUP complains about any policing or justice issue (and they’ve certainly had one or two over the last year), they should be hammered for blocking the powers to do anything about it not. The DUP’s stance is essentially scaremongering, and if set against good argument the pressure will eventually tell, probably sooner rather than later.

    Actually, I shouldn’t let the SDLP off the hook here either: they support the transfer, it’s an open goal, an easy chance to take the lead and they can’t take it.

    Regardless, I doubt this will be contained “in itself”. The base is already getting uppity after the ILA and other DUP fun. SF are already fielding “What now?” questions, and policing remains a sensitive issue. They are going to be pressed into a response, which is going to impact wider.

    I think the DUP have some window to stall and look tough, but I think the consequences of dragging this out indefinitely are unpalatable if they truly want to keep the Executive going.

  • Damian O’Loan

    No, I don’t think it’s been pre-ordained for months that that would be the outcome, but as pressure grows on the Executive to commit and be decisive, I think both sides will soften somewhat. Their language to date has, I think, been careful to leave such an option possible.

    In any case, I think the transfer of P & J was always going to be accompanied by a ‘direction of travel’ justification, one that should alienate as few people as possible. The unravelling of St Andrew’s has certainly been more painful for SF to date. But the voters seem happy that we’re in ‘peacetime’ and that GW Bush’s puppeteers’ free market doctrine can guide us to a socialist republic.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken,

    “I think the consequences of dragging this out indefinitely are unpalatable if they truly want to keep the Executive going.”

    This is certainly a possibility. I’m not sure what those wider impacts could be. The trouble is that SF has now got commitments to people far beyond the movement itself. To that extent it is no long about ‘sinn fein’.

    There is a longer term problem for both the big parties and that is delivery. Impasses tend to end in ‘no shows’. That’s fine for the odd set piece, but the whole Executive could find itself in disrepute if it becomes a pattern.

    What SF needs to do is start picking some fights it can feasibly win. The reality is that it can’t do that by picking fights with its big brother, the DUP. Even in the power sharing Executive, majority rule it would seem, still rules.

  • kensei

    Mick

    This is certainly a possibility. I’m not sure what those wider impacts could be. The trouble is that SF has now got commitments to people far beyond the movement itself. To that extent it is no long about ‘sinn fein’.

    Which is true to an extent. But SF simply cannot allowed the continuing arse kicking the DUP is handing out to continue. The base will go mental, and as much as parties like being broad coalitions, alienating your base is lethal – check out Labour’s last election results. Second, part of SF’s appeal that propelled it where it is now is that it was seen as taking a more robust position, and better able to stand up to (or draw concessions from) Unionism. Weakness here seems toxic.

    What SF needs to do is start picking some fights it can feasibly win. The reality is that it can’t do that by picking fights with its big brother, the DUP. Even in the power sharing Executive, majority rule it would seem, still rules.

    I disagree. People can only really score “victories” with the acquiescence of the other block. Moreover, aside from Ruane, who might be part of some mad plan anyway, SF ministers have been doing a reasonably effective job and certainly no worse than the DUP average. The DUP has had a hatful more issues where it wants to take a negative stance, so it’s been more “successful”. But as much as is talked about mutual veto favouring the “status quo”, parties do not get in power to do nothing. If the DUP continues to kill just about everything SF wants, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what happens next. And even if the Assembly manages to trundle on, it is electorally damaging to both parties.

    The DUP is pursuing a strategy that can only be sustained by SF acquiescence. That is not a strategy that can be pursued forever, otherwise the DUP will have to face a party that will not acquiesce. If they are clever they learn how much to draw things out, and when to let go.

    I don’t think we’re too far off. You worry about lack of delivery leading to the Assembly being in disrepute, I worry that getting to that position risks the whole show.

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s a nice point ken. I’m not worried about it per se, but I do think the parties should be. None of us can say what the future consequences may or may not be. Both parties’ tickets out of political obscurity (I mean that in a sense that’s wider than NI ie, DUP, the UK and SF, the Republic) rely on making this work.

    Despite SF’s survivalist technique of paying their representatives reduced wages, I don’t have any sense that they have more appetite for blowing things up than the DUP. I don’t imagine we’ve arrived at an ‘end of history’ in Fukyama’s sense, but a Rubicon definitively has been crossed.

  • kensei

    Despite SF’s survivalist technique of paying their representatives reduced wages, I don’t have any sense that they have more appetite for blowing things up than the DUP. I don’t imagine we’ve arrived at an ‘end of history’ in Fukyama’s sense, but a Rubicon definitively has been crossed.

    I’m doubt either party has any appetite for it, I just feel the the logic of current positions will force hands to be moved in ways that puts the Assembly at risk: MAD was designed in. Unfortunately, that assumed the various actors were rational, always a dangerous assumption here.

  • percy

    Great debate.
    Can’t add , but might simplify:
    Uptil now its been the British and Irish Gov’ts, under the stewardship of Blair and Aherne that have cajoled SF and the DUP into the St.Andrews Agreement.
    With these two having left the stage, and power-sharing resumed; the acid-test of this Assembely is:
    Can it agree to the transfer of P&J;on its own?
    The mechanisms say that it has to.

    Personnaly I believe the TUV have put a spanner in the works; and that is dangerous to the executive.
    How much of Jim Allister’s spiel is prejudice and how much of it is genuine is another debate.

    Aside from that I can only hope and pray that over the summer we see arrests in the Quinn case; and no statements from SF saying “political policing”.
    In a way they can’t do that now, as they’ve been given a fig-leaf by the IMC.

    I hate to have to end on that note, but can’t help but think the whole Quinn case is best summed up by the words of Laurel and Hardy:
    “That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into ”
    Direct that to Conor Murhpy in particular.

  • Dave

    “Every time Pete Baker makes to post I can name you at least five nationalist bloggers here who will immediately come on and claim that black was white just because Pete is the originator of the topic.” – Quizdaemon

    Spot on, and despite these incessant abuses of the ‘ball, not man’ rule by nationalists that are intolerant of dissenting or objective viewpoints, I have yet to observe Pete Baker ban the persistent offenders. Instead, he patiently deals with the caterwauling and knee-jerk vitriol, attempting to return the thread to its topic.

    “The inaccurate part (which doesn’t make it a lie btw, it could just be poorly wrought analysis on the part of DFM and many of his senior party colleagues) is the assertion that the St Andrew’s Agreement includes devolution of policing and justice powers by today. This may be what Mr McGuinness hopes/believes, but it is not strictly true. It is however a clever play on semantics.” – Mick Fealty

    Yes, it could be incompetent negotiation on the part of Sinn Fein’s chief negotiator, or it could be that Mr McGuinness was unable to secure the timeframe that his party’s Ard Fheis required as a condition of allowing Mr McGuinness to place his bum in a ministerial seat, and that his solution to this impasse was to claim that the commitment had been secured, basing his claim on nothing more substantial than Junior’s statement that he would stand by St Andrews’ Agreement (which didn’t commit to a timeframe) and couldn’t be held to mean anything other than a general pledge of good faith on behalf of Junior.

    The problem for Mr McGuinness is that he misrepresented the reality to his party’s Ard Fheis. They will have to decide if this misrepresentation was the result of incompetence on their part by appointing someone who acted incompetently in failing to secure a written and unqualified guarantee and, indeed, secured no commitment to a timeframe at all due to his naivety, or if they were lied to by someone who had a motive to lie to them and who has a history of lying to official bodies when its interests conflict with his own (as Mr McGuinness did to the Saville Inquiry), in which case they were also incompetent to appoint him as their chief negotiator and were also incompetent in failing to question him about the nature of the secured commitment in order to ascertain its quality (or blatant lack, thereof).

  • Dave

    By the way, that ‘problem’ is self-solving as far as Mr McGuinness is concerned. If he easily made hoodwinked fools out of his party’s Ard Fheis, then they cannot take action against him without highlighting the fact that they are a bunch of hoodwinked fools who are easily duped – and duped by those they appointed! So, they’ll pretend that nothing of the sort ever happened, thereby freeing Mr McGuinness from the consequences of lying to them.