Robinson flags up possible resolution on policing?

The Irish Times has a fascinatingly enigmatic statement from Peter Robinson. As CP Scott famously said, ‘comment is free, but facts are sacred’. It is a falsifiable fact that the 8th May was a target date, as the DUP claimed, and not, as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have, until recently contended, an enforceable deadline. Nevertheless, this looks like an agreement to take the discussion forward. Indeed, the statement harks back to a theme within Robinson’s maiden speech and points to the role of party leaders, other than himself and Gerry Adams. It may be an attempt to shift the debate from whether and when there will be devolution of policing and justice powers, to the question of to whom they should be devolved.

“It is a matter of public record that in recent weeks I have discussed these important matters with the Deputy First Minister at some length and I also met and indicated to other party leaders that I want to examine these issues with them as well,” said Mr Robinson. “I expect I need hardly say that agreement on a way forward has not yet been reached but, for myself, while I cannot be certain, I am not gloomy about the prospects of reaching an agreement which could command the confidence of everyone.

“I am committed and willing to intensify discussions with the Deputy First Minister and others in the period ahead to test the possibilities. I will not attempt to characterise anyone else’s position but I can say that there is a growing understanding of all the concerns that attend this debate, including those I have articulated, and a serious engagement is under way on how to resolve those concerns.

“I need not tell this audience that when dealing with such sensitive matters we must at all times remember we are dealing with the safety, security and well-being of everyone who lives here.

“We will tread carefully and only proceed when the community has the confidence to make progress. But at the same time we recognise that we have a responsibility to exert ourselves in order to identify safe structures which can create the conditions where this confidence will exist.” [emphasis added]

That’s a neat piece of political alchemy. Roughly translated, it could mean: “Let’s, maybe, have policing and justice, in order to help build confidence where it is needed rather than wait till doomsday before that confidence arrives”. Their difficulty may lie in finding the political ‘fall guy’ party willing to take the strain for two parties at the top who have thus far been unable to agree on a way forward.

The detail is sparse and highly enigmatic, but the change in tone and import is unmistakable. Even if it has that same old ring of choreography so familiar from the old Peace Process? days.

, , , ,

  • Dewi

    That does hopeful and constructive.
    (What are facts scared of Mick?)

  • Dewi

    Sound hopeful…Sorry

  • Mick Fealty

    Corrected now.

  • interested

    Not hard to imagine really. P&J;is transferred – but without any Shinner involvement and the DUP get to demand a few goodies from SF in return also.

    2 Unionist wins.

  • Dewi

    “P&J;is transferred – but without any Shinner involvement”

    According to Powell that was the original deal. The Minister responsible not to be SF (or DUP if I recall correctly). It’s positive speak at least. Well done Mr Robinson who seems to accept that inertia is an enemy of peace in this matter.

  • interested

    Dewi
    I suspect that Robinson sees that he can wangle a few concessions from the Shinners in return for something that was always coming at some point anyway – and something which all the parties are on record as supporting.

  • Mick Fealty

    interested,

    I know I kinda started it with the article above, but that would ‘futuring‘, surely?

  • i asked at the conservative party NI website:

    *How do the tories stand on the St Andrews agreement in relation to devolving police powers, please Editor?*

    and the answer

    “Re. Policing and Justice we’re NOT of the view that it is time for policing and justice to be devolved in Northern Ireland – and lumping the two issues together is unfortunate. Many English county councils have policing responsibility but don’t have control of Justice…”

    http://conservativesni.net/2008/06/11/little-ulsterism-dup-syle/#comments

    I then asked another question asking for a more thorough explanation of the reasons behind the response, which they did not publish or respond to..which gave me the impression that the focussed attempt to paint Ulster as just like any english shire at this Tory portal, is dependent on what’s being discussed..

    Education for example

    “..as education is a devolved issue our policy in Northern Ireland is different from England – where very different circumstances exist in most parts of the country…”

    the thing to do is ask Dave for a detailed position, as unlike tony, he doesn’t have a mother from Donegal and his background is english Aristocracy, and to focus on getting something more than zero info on this, and waiting till sir Dave gets in, start a concerted effort now so he can’t have a free hand to make up at will whatever is is he does in relation to Ulster if — as it looks — the tories romp back in..

    imagine the nauseating spectacle of tabla rosa Dave, bravely facing the cameras and spilling out the usual guff of britain being an exporter of democracy…

    ask the conservatives now, the right questions and be smart

    gra agus siochainn

  • notice the NOT !! — s/he laughs !!

    it betrays a vibe of how dare you ask Us!! go away bogger and let me throw pennies at you, the Imperial mind of born better king Liam and harry slotter blanket bombing terries, innit?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Mick,

    as was argued by quite a few (including my goodself) this fascination by yourself and Pete about whether the transfer of Police and Justice was an enforceable deadline or not was pinhead dancing and/or a misreading of the situation as unfavourable to SF. The real politics of the situation suggested that the pressure was on the DUP to move on this and to somehow conjure up the required ‘confidence’ in the Unionist community. And guess what – we now appear to be getting that. If it comes to pass it will vindicate SF policy of going straignt to El Gordo in Downing St. and telling him to sort Robbo out or they would pull the plug. El Gordo should be commended for this at a time when his goverment’s credibilty was falling apart and he needed DUP support.

    What will be interesting here is the Ulster Unionist’s position which may well be against the transfer as a means of embarassing the DUP. The boy Reg may well try to out-DUP the DUP and do a Paisley-on-Trimlbe or a Paisley-on-Faulkener.

  • Quagmire

    Not hard to imagine really. P&J;is transferred – but without any Shinner involvement and the DUP get to demand a few goodies from SF in return also 2 Unionist wins.
    Posted by interested on Jun 30, 2008 @ 03:24 PM

    Where did u get this info from? Oh I’m sorry, you just made it up to comfort yourself!! If only the DUP had you negotiating for them! There wouldn’t be any need to negotiate really. You could just make things up and everything, including those horrible republicans/nationalists, would just seem to disappear! Do u have anymore of that LSD? lol

  • interested

    Mick,
    It could be futuring, but not on the part of the DUP.

    What about education being sorted out now (to the DUP’s satisfaction) plus maybe a few other issues within the Executive in order for the DUP to agree to a timetable for the transfer of P&J;.

    You never know what could happen. When you look at how poorly SF did out of St Andrews and the very fact they didn’t appear to realise that there was no guarantee on this issue at that time they may well again get very little (in reality) for giving away quite a lot.

  • interested

    Quagmire
    “Oh I’m sorry, you just made it up to comfort yourself!! If only the DUP had you negotiating for them!”

    And perhaps if SF had invited you along to negotiate for them then they would have actually got an enforceable deadline, not just an aspiration which they sold to the hardmen in Carrickmore and Crossmaglen!

    Sammy
    “What will be interesting here is the Ulster Unionist’s position which may well be against the transfer as a means of embarassing the DUP.”

    That probably will be interesting to watch. Their position has of course changed in the past from demanding it in 2005 to now where they don’t want it. You never can quite tell what the UUP will think on any given issue.

  • lets hope that the uup has the guts to stand up with TUV against Adams blackmail. Go Adams – collapse the assembly and call an election.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sammy,

    Please feel free to falsify the proposition above. It’s straight political reality. After the question of whether it was a deadline or a target date was settled, there was only two outstanding questions: when and how?

    The rest is political Kremlinology. A pastime that, IMHO, holds scant reward for those who indulge in it.

  • Quagmire

    “And perhaps if SF had invited you along to negotiate for them then they would have actually got an enforceable deadline, not just an aspiration which they sold to the hardmen in Carrickmore and Crossmaglen!”
    Posted by interested on Jun 30, 2008 @ 04:11 PM

    We can clearly see who is in charge of the process at this stage. A simple threat by SF to bring down the whole house and within weeks this statement by Robinson on P&J;. Won’t be long now for an acht na gaelige either, whether it be from London or Belfast. Some good the triple lock has been for the DUP. The deadline isn’t and wasn’t really a big deal for Republicans. As long as we get there in the end. Once P&J;is in place, the last piece of the devolution jigsaw, then the fight must begin for the reunification of this Island. We’re in it for the long haul and time and common sense is on our side. Until that day it will be mandatory coalition with all-Island mechanisms/infrastructure and no going back to the old days of Unionist majority mis-rule, so for those of you who may want and argue for voluntary coalition in the north at some stage in the near future, forget about it!! I think its called the triple lock veto. lol. An Phoblacht Abu!! SF don’t need any help in the negotiating department IMHO!!

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Quags,

    you are spot on there with the veto/locks – or it looks like that now – with Robbo on the move in the right direction.

    Mick,

    the point was not about whether it was an enforceable deadline – clearly the DUP could effectively opt out of their ‘commitments’ as required by the STA but whether it in reality a veto they could exercise – if not it was pretty useless – though to be fair it did allow them to drag the process out a bit. It is a difficult position for them to be in and if they need a bit of political cover (ie “we will do it when the Unionist people were ready”) then good luck to them.

    I’m warming to the boy Robbo and wait to see what wee Reggie will have to say.

  • Mick Fealty

    You know what happens to boys who eat their pudding before their starters. It kills their appetite!

  • fenian bastard

    SF should walk out of the whole damn charade.

    The DUP just hate us and our culture.

    Northern Ireland isn’t ours and never will be.
    It must be destroyed.

  • 0b101010

    The DUP just hate us and our culture.

    Northern Ireland isn’t ours and never will be.
    It must be destroyed.

    Hypocrite.

  • T.Ruth

    There was no set date at St.Andrew’s.Different people came away with different perceptions. Pand J will only be devolved when there is sufficient in the Unionist community for that to happen. That was what the DUP negotiated in line with their manifesto.DUP has always wanted devolution of P and J.
    As for UUP -it was the removal of PandJ powers that lead to Brian Faulkner resigning,to Stormont being prorogued and effectively handing Northern Ireland over to Direct Rule from Westminster.
    The DUP has been committed to devolution for a long time and to reinforcing the quality of devolved status by having local control of Pand J. There is a real need to think very carefully about bread and butter aspects like the lack of preparedness and ability of the PSNI and all the financial implications. Needless to say a SF Minister is out of the question.Perhaps a job for Alliance.
    T.Ruth

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    T. Ruth

    “there is sufficient in the Unionist community”

    Ah the missing ingredient “confidence” perhaps? Will that be the same missing ingredient that Robbo has recently discovered after the helpful kick up the Jacksy from El Gordo in Downing Street?

  • Reader

    It was Sammy: If it comes to pass it will vindicate SF policy…
    Is that it? Devolution of P and J was always in the plan, but if it ever happens it will be a SF victory? Likewise, if Ian Paisley ever dies it will be a judgement from God…
    And if, during the ongoing negotiations, SF ever get stuff from their wishlist, that will be a SF triumph; but if they don’t get it, that will all be down to the DUP not understanding Equality and Power Sharing?
    Is there a scenario where you might actually declare that people with different views have reached a set of compromises on a basket of issues?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Reader,

    “have reached a set of compromises on a basket of issues”

    Fair point.

    But… we did have to listen to so much guff from the DUP about their veto ( and from Pete on this site ) on this even though it was in effect a commitment from the DUP in STA. It took a threat from SF with support from El Gordo to hurry them up. But all is well that ends well and good on Robbo for getting on with this.

  • Reader

    It was Sammy: guff from the DUP about their veto … on this even though it was in effect a commitment from the DUP in STA.
    Well – precisely. It was always a question of when, not whether. It still is.
    The sooner the better, so far as I’m concerned. But however it works out, neither SF nor the DUP are getting the credit so far as I am concerned, nor my vote.