“Whether it brings devolution closer is another matter..”

As Dan Keenan says in the Irish Times – of yesterday’s letter from the Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers to the Executive Review Committee.

Yesterday’s announcement by Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness that three key elements of a package to deliver policing and justice devolution have been agreed, allows them to claim just that. Whether it brings devolution closer is another matter.

Indeed. And whilst the Alliance Party’s David Ford declared the situation “just bonkers”, it appears that the UUP leader, Reg Empey, is of a similar mind

“I think this is half-baked, I don’t think we’re ready for it, I don’t think the people want it,” [Reg Empey] said. “I don’t know who’s going to do it (be justice minister) because we’ve not been involved in any discussions on it, it appears the Alliance haven’t been properly involved in discussions on it, I don’t believe the SDLP has. “So how you can announce an agreement, without other parties being involved in it, escapes me.”

Back to Dan Keenan in the Irish Times

Other outstanding issues remain to be examined and this will take time. For the moment though, the tossing of some responsibility for consideration of justice devolution to an Assembly committee buys this Executive some breathing space.

Until the next intervention? Adds From the iol report

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams says enormous patience will be needed over the next few months to secure the devolution of policing and justice.

Indeed – redux. Of course, the Sinn Féin leadership had promised delivery by May..

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  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    In summary: Coalition government cobbles together a deal on a divisive issue and the ‘opposition’ (well, opponents) claim it won’t work.

  • Rooster Cogburn

    What ‘deal’ have they cobbled together? This is government by (badly drafted) press release: the ‘deal’ is as yet no more than an unrealised aspiration, insincerely meant most probably by both main protagonists.

    Meanwhile, I’m not a great gusher, indeed, I rather fear I’m a gigantic gurner, but it’s time to laddle out some rare praise: Pete Baker has called this one throughout, from start to nowhere-near-finish. The air of unreality with which blinkered Provette posters have greeted every absurd twist, back-tracking and full-on U-turn by their cult’s Godheads would have made the denizens of Manor Farm, as was, blush.

    As a Unionist, I’m still marginally delighted at the finesse with which the Punt is stitching up the Shinners, but the point remains, this is a deeply dysfunctional ‘system’ of pretendy-government. And Unionists should rightly beware inherent tendencies towards instability.

  • DUP Voter

    Reg is clearly very stupid indeed. Does he not know that Peter Robinson is supposed to decide all things for unionists?

  • Rooster Cogburn

    It’s not that he’s ‘supposed’ to, it’s that he’s able. to. And he’s able to because, in part, Reg let Trimble destroy the UUP, hence the DUP’s unfettered intra-Unionist supremacy. Had Reg got off his arse and either kept Jeffrey in the party, or, better still, moved against Trimble, the UUP would now not be in its current terminal state.

  • were the whole thing to end up parked on the wing mirror – would the DUP or would Sinn Fein be considered as the Party to have “lost” the most in terms of moving farthest away from their pre-St. Andrews position?

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Sorry, I don’t have the inside track, like yourself. I was merely summarising a “nothing to see here” news report before someone told me it was a brilliant analysis of the current state of play. As you were…

  • percy

    nice wind-up at the end peteb, wearing thin though?

  • DUP Voter

    Rooster is clearly deluded,

    The DUP is the only party of unionism and we call all the shots, because we’ve been unequivocobly right in all that we do. The UUP on the other hand are just lundies and are somehow under the misaprehension that they’re unionist despite not being in the DUP.

  • Henry94

    So how you can announce an agreement, without other parties being involved in it, escapes me

    All the DUP and Sinn Fein have said is that they won’t seek the post. That doesn’t mean the UUP have to.

    The decision to create it arises out of the St Andrews talks so it’s nothing new. The only issue was timing. Now is the time.

    I’m sure the SDLP will be happy to take it.

  • alternative ulster

    the simple answer is for the UUP and the SDLP to propose one of their members – each – for P&J;supremo.

    Then neither party should vote and let the DUP and the Shinners do the heavy lifting of selecting the minister.

    Then we will see what progress has been made. Will the DUPers vote for a Nat or will the Shinners pick a Brit?

    Could the DUPs face their electorate knowing they had betrayed the unionist family appointing a nat or could the shinners face the backlash from the chuckies of appointing a Brit?

    Now that would be progress.

  • Conquistador

    Even if they both proposed and voted for their own candidate the burden would fall on DUPSinn-Fein to choose, and would make for interesting politics

  • alternative ulster

    conquistador

    very true – maybe its a plan!!

  • dewi

    Maggie R for P&J;?

  • dunreavynomore

    Adams and ‘enormous patience’ reminds me of the unusual patience shown by the sinn fein party over the ongoing arrests in sth armagh and monaghan in the paul quinn murder case as they have made no comment on the issue, either to welcome the arrests or to complain about them. Surely they are not waiting to see what way the wind blows? A few months ago the m.p. and several councillors commented at length when 2 young lads were arrested and questioned about fireworks and a broken window. Ah the old priorites are important, murder wouldn’t be nearly as bad as a broken window, now, would it?

  • Jack Cade

    This fiasco really shows that the prepetual negotiation that is the new assembly really only helps the big two push the wee two into irrelivence. Perhaps this is a lesson learned from all the talks about talks that lead up to this arrangement in the first place?

  • By the way, if appointed, what exactly is the P@J supremo over, what are their powers?

  • slug

    Mick

    This list of powers reads as follows:

    • the criminal law1;
    • the creation of offences and penalties1;
    • the prevention and detection of crime and powers of arrest and detention in connection with crime or criminal proceedings1;
    • prosecutions;
    • the treatment of offenders (including children and young persons, and mental health patients, involved in crime);
    • the surrender of fugitive offenders between Northern Ireland and the Republic of
    Ireland;
    • compensation out of public funds for victims of crime;
    • local community safety partnerships;
    • the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland;
    • the maintenance of public order, the Parades Commission for Northern Ireland;
    • the establishment, organisation and control of the Police Service of Northern
    Ireland and of any other police force (other than the Ministry of Defence Police);
    • the Northern Ireland Policing Board;
    • traffic wardens;
    • firearms and explosives;
    • rights of appeal to the Supreme Court and associated legal aid arrangements;
    • the Courts;
    • the Northern Ireland Law Commission;
    • the Social Security and Child Support Commissioners.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    It looks like Wee Reggie is trying to position himself against a DUP move on Police and Justice knowing that this will appeal to the TUV and other assorted anti-agreement Unionists. He will presumably keep up the ‘the Unionists are not ready for this yet’ arguement until after the Fermanagh by-election so as to embarass the DUP. Very statesmanlike indeed. But the non-statesman-of-the-year award will of course go to wee Davy Ford for his tremendous utterings that in Non Irons hour of need he was going to do… exactly nothing.

    With DUP movement looking likely in the months ahead Robbo will have to keep a tight grip on his knickers and keep his head down until big Jimbo and the TUV and Wee Reggie and the Neo Cons run out of bluster.

  • Comrade Stalin

    But the non-statesman-of-the-year award will of course go to wee Davy Ford for his tremendous utterings that in Non Irons hour of need he was going to do… exactly nothing.

    What else do you expect ? Why uphold the interests of a failed administration ? How could the party announce the acceptance of a deal that it has not seen or been consulted on ?

    The executive as it is presently constituted is clearly not acceptable to the Alliance Party, and it looks to me as if Ford wanted to ensure that everyone was clear about that before anyone allowed themselves to get too excited about the possibility of the party taking the justice ministry.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Comrade Stalin,

    “What else do you expect ?”

    something like this

    “The Alliance Party was borne out of the need to bring the 2 divided communities in Britsih Occupied Ireland together. Now in the face of continuing difficulties on the issue of the Transfer of Police and Justice, which is both extremely difficult for Unionists and extermely important to Nationalists we in the Alliance party will not be found wanting.

    Well maybe not the ‘British occupied Ireland’ bit.

  • Pete Baker

    You still peddling those lines, Samnmy?

    Thing is when you replace your “extremely important to Nationalists” with the reality – “extremely important to Gerry’s rapidly diminishing credibility with his own party’s supporters” – you start to see why the Alliance Party, and everyone else come to that, should not acquiesce in another attempt to sell yet another pig in a poke to those supporters.

  • Dewi

    Pete – your point was a “point” and well and made many times. It’s not “the” point though.

    “The” point is that for a common future policing and justice needs to be devolved. Quickly.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy,

    Unlike Sinn Fein, Alliance generally writes it’s own statements. But let’s go through yours.

    The Alliance Party was borne out of the need to bring the 2 divided communities in Britsih Occupied Ireland together.

    Alliance does not recognize the concept of “two divided communities”. It recognizes the concept of a single divided society and it exists to serve and promote dialogue and agreement within the whole community.

    Alliance does not recognize the concept of “British occupied Ireland”. This concept is invalidated by the GFA which recognizes the Northern Ireland state; Sinn Fein don’t even use this term anymore. You’re seriously out of date.

    Now in the face of continuing difficulties on the issue of the Transfer of Police and Justice,

    Alliance does not see it as a matter of continuing difficulties in the transfer of policing and justice. Alliance sees continuing difficulties in the entire constitution of this broken and failed executive, and it believes there must be reform. This isn’t a new position, it has argued for reform since the signing of the GFA. The difficulties in transferring policing and justice are caused by the same problems that are causing the difficulties on the executive’s own programme for government, and they are nothing to do with Alliance, and they will not be solved by Alliance agreeing to legitimise the institutions that are part of the problem.

    Trying to sort out devolution of policing and justice right now is like trying to fix dry rot in the bathroom by slapping down some new lino.

    which is both extremely difficult for Unionists and extermely important to Nationalists,/I>

    Alliance is a party which exists to cater not only for unionists and nationalists, but also for those of us who are neither. It will never use a phrase like the one you just supplied above.

    we in the Alliance party will not be found wanting.

    I don’t believe in it’s history that Alliance has ever been found wanting. The executive is a failure and it needs reform. Until then Alliance cannot be part of it. When a genuine willingness to work for the required reforms to make the executive sustainable and positioned to commence real and genuine delivery, the party will be there at the talks table to play it’s role.

    I suggest you think about where you are yourself. You are trying to sell me a deal that you haven’t even seen yet.

  • Comrade Stalin

    “The” point is that for a common future policing and justice needs to be devolved. Quickly.

    I disagree. The point is : why has the executive not been able to achieve this ? Why have they put themselves in the position where they have to ask the Alliance Party to take on the job in the first place ? That is the question you should be asking.

  • Pete Baker

    ““The” point is that for a common future policing and justice needs to be devolved. Quickly”

    Crap, dewi.

    The “quickly” would only serve to spare Gerry’s ever deepening blushes over what he’s claimed to have promises and commitments on.

    The current Executive have yet to prove themselves, or that their mandatory coalition can work effectively together.

    Let’s see evidence of that, on what they currently have power over, first.

  • 0b101010

    Why have they put themselves in the position where they have to ask the Alliance Party to take on the job in the first place ?

    The DUP and Sinn Féin have based their entire political strength, one that eventually awarded themselves shared control of the country, on binary sectarian gutter politics. They have to constantly dance around each other now, even if there is nothing to gain, to slide even the most mundane compromises past the support bases they spent the last few decades stirring into a rabid frenzy.

    They are shackled and hobbled by their own success.

  • fairplay

    Perhaps Pete could spend a week tailing every DUP statement with “Of course the DUP promised to smash Sinn Fein”.
    Just for a week.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Looks to me like the DUP have managed to smash Sinn Fein. Or at least manage to make them present themselves as complete idiots.

  • percy

    peteb
    sometimes its worth keeping up to date on what the SF president is actually saying:

    “It’s my very, very strong view from talking to people, talking to ordinary unionists I bump into, that people want to see the powers to bring in legislation to deal with a myriad of issues, from street drinking to violent crime to repeat offenders to the rights of victims and that’s all far better done by local accountable ministers,” said the Sinn Féin president.”

    perhaps you’d like to counter that?

  • Comrade Stalin

    percy,

    At this point I’m wondering if you’re being deliberately obtuse. Who said that anybody objects to devolving policing and justice ?

    On a side note, it looks to me as if Sinn Fein are in the process of hanging themselves on another hook. When devolution of policing and justice happens, which I feel is inevitable, I do not anticipate that our law and order problems will miraculously turn themselves around. Sinn Fein are presenting devolution of these powers as a one-shot miracle bullet. Life just is not that simple, not for any issue, let alone law and order.

    Furthermore, I do not believe that Sinn Fein or anyone else have an actual set of proposals concerning how they would actually tackle law and order problems if they had the hot-seat. Aside from the matter of school selection, all I have ever seen our Executive ministers do is implement existing British government policy. What’s the point in making all this noise about devolving the power simply to wield a rubber stamp ?

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Percy,

    “talking to ordinary unionists I bump into”

    Grizzly thats a cracker.

    CS,

    you have to understand that the transfer of Police and Justice is a key republican demand not because its going to sudddenly make the streets safer (as Grizzly was spinning above )but because Irish people and not the British governement will be administering the rule of law – without (the promise of )that they would not have signed up to supporting the police at the Ard Fheis – see Pete’s multiple posts on this.

    Many unionists are against it ( see Jimbo and the Tuvvers statements for full details of why) but basically because they dony want a terrorist about the courthouse and thats why Robbo had his funny 3 locks from the STA. I have not seen any opinion polls on this but I suspect if any do appear that Robbo will have difficulty with stating that the necessary ‘confidence’ exists within Unionism for the transfer to take place.

  • Comrade Stalin

    but because Irish people and not the British governement will be administering the rule of law – without (the promise of )that they would not have signed up to supporting the police at the Ard Fheis

    Alright, you’re even more fucked up than I thought. So all this bullshit about improving life on the ground is a lot of nonsense; it’s a point of principle ? Next you’ll be telling me you want it just to annoy the unionists.

    The basic idea here is that the rest of us have to sign up to a fuckup because your stupid leaders made a promise they were in no position to keep at their party conference. Well, sorry, but no deal.

    I want to see policing and justice powers transferred, but not before I’m convinced that the framework exists to do so. Presently, the framework does not even exist to organize a weekly meeting between ten people. The executive has spent the guts of a full year arguing in public instead of taking real decisions. You expect me to believe that when a controversial policing or legal matter comes up these people are qualified to make sure it gets sorted ? Nonsense. I’ll take my chances with Westminster running it – until people start talking some sense.

    Many unionists are against it ( see Jimbo and the Tuvvers statements for full details of why) but basically because they dony want a terrorist about the courthouse and thats why Robbo had his funny 3 locks from the STA.

    More of the weird chuckie fantasy bullshit. Unionists aren’t against it, when are you going to start comprehending basic facts ? Peter Robinson has stated several times that he wants to see it in place. The UUP haven’t objected strongly as far as I can tell. Nobody cares about the TUV at the moment. They’ve got no teeth, and more importantly, they’ve got no balls when it comes to putting their cards on the table in Fermanagh.

    I have not seen any opinion polls on this but I suspect if any do appear that Robbo will have difficulty with stating that the necessary ‘confidence’ exists within Unionism for the transfer to take place.

    They said that about the deal we’ve got right now.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    CS,

    you would have to be keeping your head firmly in the sand not to know it’s a “point of principle”.

    Firstly you tell me

    “The basic idea here is that the rest of us have to sign up to a fuckup because your stupid leaders made a promise they were in no position to keep at their party conference. Well, sorry, but no deal.”

    ie you are against it.

    Secondly you say

    Unionists aren’t against it

    How many people are writing your posts or are you on the pop?

  • fairplay

    CS
    “Looks to me like the DUP have managed to smash Sinn Fein. Or at least manage to make them present themselves as complete idiots.”

    Good for you. I’m sure Iris and Sammy would agree.
    How about Pete?