Policing and Justice: DUP vs TUV

The latest part of the war of words saga between the DUP and TUV has been over policing an justice and specifically the power which Martin McGuinness as deputy first minister might have over judicial appointments. Jim Allister launched a Policing and Justice document which attacked the DUP over the possibility that if P&J were devolved, even to the likes of Alliance, then the OFMDFM would still have control over the appointment of judges and the Attorney General. In reply the Nigel Dodds has countered “the DUP has made it absolutely clear that there can be no question of powers over judicial appointments being devolved to any Department including OFMDFM where there would be a Sinn Fein role.” In reply to that Allister has welcomed what he says is a change in DUP policy.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of who said what before or after whom: it does now look as if the DUP is set to oppose the possibility of OFMDFM having any involvement in judicial appointments. It is unclear what SF will make of this and whether or not that will add to the problem which the policing and justice issue already represents.

  • Steve

    What did the IRA need guns for these wing nuts roam around shooting each other in the foot

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Presumably this issue has been agreed/fudged with SF already – otherwise if it was a late change in DUP policy as suggested by Jimbo then SF would tell the DUP to feck off.

    Interesting DUP Spin from Dodders.
    “In fact, the current position of Direct Rule which Jim favours, would in all probability, be subject to greater Southern control as Dublin has a direct line into the Northern Ireland Office. Once again this flawed argument put forward by Jim demonstrates that he is clutching at straws.”

  • Dewi

    It’s solved surely.

  • sam

    Perhaps someone could help Mr Allister to spell Jeffrey

  • I think you’re correct on that Dewi.
    There will be sequencing and associated theatre, but the DUP & SF need this to work.

  • Paul

    Turgon delude yourself no longer…Sinn Fein will have direct influence over judcial appointments within the next two years.

    Unionism is quite dense, intelligent guys who can never see the wood from the …4000 year old trees, go figure.

  • RepublicanStones

    The Shinkickers will have a say in these appointments I predict (beware though, I thought Armagh would beat Wexford). Jim ‘the grin’ Allister whilst never willing to admit it, would no doubt like the clock turned back a few decades, aint gonna happen and the DUP who realise this are making the best fist of sharing power with their foe as best they can, while raising the odd red flag to present some sort of verility to those Dupppers who are thinking of heading in the direction of ‘the grin’, this last sentence was too long wasn’t it?

  • Paul

    Not long enough RS 🙂

  • cynic

    There’s a lot of hot air and bluster here but can someone please to explain to me what role OFMDFM could possibly have in this process?

    Under European Law isnt it a requirment that Judicial Appointments be independent of Government to prevent bias?

    And in NI aren’t such appointments made by the Lord Chancellor on the recommendation of the indepenedent Judicial Appointments Commission?

    So what role is envisiaged for the Shinners? Or anyone else for that matter?

    Never mind the facts I suppose. Let’s just have a sectarian squabble?

  • Brian Walker

    On the face of it, Nigel Dodd’s statement is puzzling. A role for FMDFM has been in existence since the Criminal Justice Review of 2000.
    The Justice NI Act 2004 does make a change. Earlier, the Prime Minister was in effect to make appointments of the NI Lord Chief Justice and Lord Justice of Appeal, based on the recommendations of FMDFM on the advice of the independent Judicial Appointments Commission. They key role in the process is played by the Commission. The 2004 act changes this as follows:

    “The First and Deputy First Minister, after consultation with the Lord Chief Justice (or the most senior Lord Justice of Appeal if the office of the Lord Chief Justice is vacant or the Lord Chief Justice is unavailable), will make a
    recommendation to the Prime Minister (new section 12(4)). The Prime Minister MUST CONSIDER THAT RECOMMENDATION before making his recommendation to Her Majesty.

    The Commission will still provide advice to the First and Deputy First Ministers on
    the procedure to adopt for formulating a recommendation to the Prime Minister.”

    Some see this as a weakening of the role of FMDFM,
    but either way, the DFM has a statutory role combined with the FM. The only way Nigel Dodds’ comment appears to fit is that he said that” there was no question of POWERS over judicial appointments being devolved to any Department including OFMDFM where there would be a Sinn Fein role.”

    Strictly speaking, FMDFM doesn’t have POWERS here, they make RECOMMENDATIONS. But it’s a very fine line and there’s no question that Martin McGuinness play that role in law.

  • cynic

    Yes, buts it’s to make recommendations and those must be made in line with the Oath of Office and must take account of the evidence from the NIJAC and its only for the LCJ and Court of Appeal. And its transparent as there is a formal graded selection process before it gets anywehre near OFMDFM.

    So there are no powers, just recommendations so a British Minister or Chancellor can make the appopintment.

    Who would trust any of them with anything else?

  • ulsterfan

    cynic raises a very interesting point.
    The role of FMDFM is clearly defined in what powers they possess.
    If there is any doubt lets hear from DUP/SF as to what they think is their responsibility.
    No one politician should make such an appointment. Cross party/community support is required.

  • ulsterfan

    cynic raises a very interesting point.
    The role of FMDFM is clearly defined in what powers they possess.
    If there is any doubt lets hear from DUP/SF as to what they think is their responsibility.
    No one politician should make such an appointment. Cross party/community support is required.

  • Bigger Picture

    I agree complete scaremongering from Jim Allister. He would be better attacking SF for trying to bring NIinto dispute once again rather than attacking fellow unionists who are preventing them from fulfilling their republican agenda. In an attempt to garnish support Jim Allister has resorted to attacking the DUPon policies they do not even have. This is petty scaremongering and bitter sniping at it’s most base and no one will be fuelled by a one man band with his ego trip and personal vendetta.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Allister seemed pretty happy with the assurances given by Dodds on the radio yesterday. I am allowed to mention the word sanctimonious, guess who it is I am reffering to.

  • “as Dublin has a direct line into the Northern Ireland Office”

    Brian, can you describe for us how this mechanism works? How are Dublin officials involved in policy and ‘sensitive’ day-to-day policing and other justice decisions?

  • Eoghan, it seems that Jim is less than happy with Peter’s paramilitary endeavours. Was Nigel privy to this rendezvous?

  • Nev

    I originally thought you were referring to Peter the Punt’s original paramilitary adventures, or indeed of some of his colleagues flirtations.

    Just another day of hypocrisy.

  • cynic

    Isn’t it called the Anglo Irish Secretariat, set up under the hated Anglo Irish Agreement? Then there are the regular cross-border meetings at Official and Ministerial levels and the various conferences.

    And of course they also have those wonderful new inventions called the telephone and email.

    But even NI Ministers are not involved in day to day policing decisions or the operation of the Courts because, unlike Irleand, we have constitutional protections to prevent Ministerial interference. Those matters are for the Chief Constable who is accountable to the Policing Board and the Lord Chief Justice.

    And on a practical level the mechanism seems to operate like this. If SF or the SDLP don’t get their own way or cannot win an argument, they first try the NIO Minister. Then if that doesnt work, they run to Nanny in Dublin and complain to the Irish Government who phone the NIO to complain on their behalf. Simple really.

  • Brian Walker

    cynic etc. Subject to comment from a named expert, Judicial appointments are made by the independent judicial appointments commission, chaired by the Lord Chief Justice as in England and Wales. This largely removes these appointments from the political sphere.Under devolution of P&J;, FMDFM have as duty to ensure that JAC appointments, and appointments the JAC make,are representative of the whole community so far as is practicable. The FMDFM role provides a measure of local political accountability without disturbing the independence of the commission. The Prime Minister signs off the LCJ and Appeal court appointments after “considering” the FMDFM recommendations and not “based on” them. I guess – and its only a guess – that the change was made to cover the eventuality of deadlock in recommending an appointment,, or doing a shoddy deal. I also guess that the chair of the JAC may inform the PM of the commission’s choice directly and not through FMDFM. It would be interesting to know that. But make no mistake, the DFM has a role.

    Nevin, the short answer is I believe the mechanisms are intergovernmental ie. between minister and civil servants DFA or Justice to NIO and Gardai to PSNI on operational matters, according to the terms of the GFA under which the Irish government is a co- guarantor, rather than set out specifically in law or treaty.

  • fair_deal

    Turgon

    When Jim (and others spilt) the IRA structures were raised as the core concern of IRA genuiness. More recently he has raised the appointment of judges. If both issues are satisfactorily resolved in the negotiations and implementation what is the purpose of TUV?

  • USA

    Thanks Brian Walker, a level headed (non partisan – see “cynic”) explaination of the situation.
    I do however believe that any judicial recommendations made by OFMDFM are very unlikely to be overlooked by other folks in the selection process. That is the way these things work, OFMDFM do their homework, make a recommendation and that is pretty much it done – everyone else is just happy that they agreed on something and signs off on it.
    If they cannot agree then the language does allow an appointment to be selected without them, but at that point expect SF to rattle the cage of Dublin to help “guide” the appointment. London will not ignore Dublin as they value their co-operation and want to keep them onside as a working partner on the thorny issue of the North. Nothwithstanding DUP’s influence in the British Parliament.
    As I have been saying all along to my unionist friends, P+J is a deal breaker for SF. I have been disheartned by the lack of insight by most Unionist posters on this issue. I really think the Unionists base (many unionist MLA’s and most councillors) are not up to speed with London, Dublin, Washington etc. Robinson is going to have to make a deal and it is going to be against everything most unionist posters have said. I think Robinson is already aware of how this will go, and he will be helped in getting it through his base by the governments etc, but it will still be hard and Jim Allister will benefit politically.
    SF will be keeping an eye on the TUV too as they are keenly aware that is a card to be played to their strategic advantage – they will deploy this asset to their greatest advantage either by forcing an election or when one comes in due course. When they play the card the result they are looking for will be a SF First Minister.
    A lot of the Unionist base really are blind to all of this and may be shocked at how quickly it can happen it they do not start playing the game by the rules laid down in the GFA / Belfast Agreement.
    Robinson is “snookered” but will be allowed to move the white ball as long as he plays the shot he is told to play.

  • fair_deal

    Plus it seems SF are isolated on mandatory coalition

  • USA

    I would also expect the Irish language enthusiasts to be left empty handed for another year or so to help Peter get this through. Provides him with a victory (of sorts) to give his base.
    The ILA however may eventually be the issue over which SF bring the TUV into play.
    Watch this space, and as always “Have a nice day”.

  • truth and justice

    It is rather sad to see but the DUP have not agreed to a thing on P&J;yet it is the same stance that Jim Allaister agreed to when he was in the party what is he going on about!

  • cynic

    “OFMDFM do their homework, make a recommendation and that is pretty much it done ”

    …. well perhaps, but that is called ‘political discrimination’ and is illegal and challengable in the courts. Interestingly, if it were to happen on the appointment of the LCJ how could the aggrieved applicant get a fair hearing so off we go to Europe again?

    FRankly, you either believe in a fair system, free from discrimination or you dont. Let politicians near it and it will be tainted.

    And USA, I am sorry that you find my post partisan but in Ireland the Minister can instruct the Garda Commissioner on operational matters. In the recent past that power was used for all sorts of fun purposes like stopping prosecutions of party members, doing favours, suppressing scandals and protecting paedophile priests.

    In NI before 1969 the Minister of Home Affairs had exactly the same powers and used them in the same sorts of ways usually to the disadvantage of nationalists. But now the Chief Constable is insulated from that. The Minister cannot tell him what to do.

    It’s not just me on about this. A few years back there were many calls for reform in Ireland which the Governmnet stonewalled. Well, it was always useful to be able to control too many questions about those brown envelops that were floating about. And in the UK successive Home Secretaries have always been keen to get more and more control over Chief Constables. Indeed the next Conservative Government may make them electable.

    Which model do you prefer? And why do you think it partisan to comment on what is a real issue of freedom in terms of the way in which citizens are treated fairly by the state and before the law without politcial interference from Ministers?

  • Paul P

    Allister is tryng to do a Paisley 1960odd-2006, something he will never do for he doesn’t have 10% of the Big Mawns personality (or poltical skill). He’d be better off solely focusing on his career as a barrister. Then at least he would get paid decent money for being a *******.

  • “Those matters are for the Chief Constable who is accountable to the Policing Board and the Lord Chief Justice.”

    cynic, those policing decisions arrived at under the direction of Joint Secretariat staff might not be accountable as they could be classified as an exchange between two Governments. The MSM has been very lax in informing the public about the JS’s activities.

  • Paul, Jim Allister and his team have probably done more than our 108 MLAs put together to get to the truth of the Rathlin ferry contract shenanigans.

  • Paul P

    Fair enough Nevin,I live a few miles from Ballycastle but I have to say I care less about the Rathlin crosiing than Allister’s destructive agitating from the sidelines and his sapping the new found confidence out of Unionism and its reps.

    For the first time it seems that Unionist politicians have negotiated SF on to the back foot and then we have these incessant verbal grenades from Jim Allister. What positive contribution is he making to the next generation of uninionsits in N.I having any significant control over their own domestic affairs.

    JA is progressing his political agenda with moralist ideals, however I think it is really a cover for his bitterness at not getting exactly his own way inside the DUP. If his current views are really what he belives why didn’t he leave the DUP much sooner. He endorsed manifesto commitments that everyone knew meant that the DUP would end up sharing power with whomever nationalists chose as their representatives, which was likely going to be SF. I agree that these manifestos where far too ambiguous about the conditions and timing of power sahring but they were not ambiguous about actually sharing power. Jim Allister’s recent pronouncements mean that he was being dishonest when he asked for voters to back his pro-devolution manifesto.

    Thankfully Allister is no Ian Paisley and despite his scare mongering he does not have the ability to lead large numbers of thinking Unionist voters.

  • Paul, the investigations are not into the Rathlin crossing but into the tender process, a process that involved inter alia Ministers and officials from the Department of Regional Development and Finance and Personnel. There’s also been a claim that the Scottish government has been dissuading one of its own companies from raising objections.

    Surely you must be concerned about the actions of all Ministers, not just Unionist ones.

    PS I’m puzzled by your reference to ‘large numbers of thinking Unionist voters’ in the context of the calibre of their public representatives.

  • USA

    Cynic,
    Firstly, I appreciate the way you stayed on topic during your response, way too many people quickly resort to name calling, finger pointing etc. This display of maturity is commendable when it happens.
    You asked me “Which model do you prefer?” and raised some good points.
    Of the three jurisdictions you referred to, ROI, Britain or NI / the North / Wee Six, I prefer the latter for the reasons outlined by Brian Walker in post 20 page 1.
    To me it is an example of how you can develop systems that are better than those that currently exist elsewhere.
    As another example, I also felt you guys were perfectly placed to offer yourselves as a world center for conflict resolution and all the jobs / visitors / conferences that would bring. But that has been blown by petty posturing about a “terrorist shrine” etc. As you attempt to steady your feet in your first attempts at democracy in the afore mentioned geographic area, you really should be co-operating rather than destroying potential winners due to old sectarian differences. A center for conflict resolution would have been a magnificent idea. Perhaps the first clients would have been your MLA’s.

  • cynic

    USA

    I agree compleletly on the isue of a Conflict |Resolution Centre. In effect some of thsi is happening in that NI Politicians are off advising around the woirld as are former members of the hated RUC.

    THe problem is where do you base that. SF want it at thye Aze and want the H Blocks prerserved as a memorial. The unionists see this as a terrorist shrine. Then into this heady mix goes the issue of a sports stadium.

    My views are simple:-

    1 the stadium is a white elephant. No-one really wants it and economically its hopelessly unviable. Its NI’s Millennium DOme where in 20 years people will; look at their rates bill and ask, why the hell did they do that?

    2 we have two good univesrities here and one has or has a centre for conflict stuidies. It seems to me that it is the ideal basis for a centre, not the Maze which is a hole in the middle of nowhere. It would also add rigour and credibility to any studies and work programmes.

    3 in terms of the ‘memorial’, then fine but if its to be state subsidized in some way let it tell the whole truth ie who the hunger striklers were, what they did to end up in prison, who they killed, the impoact of that on all thsoe left behind including their families and the victims families. It should also tell the truth about the negotiations including the fact that a deal was on offer that would have prevented at least 4 deaths but was not put the Strikers for political purposes.

    I know that they will be immediate shouts and screams from some of the SF Groupies here on this. But one of Ireland’s big problems is her myths. We all hold them and hide from reality behind them. If we are to have any shared future we need to dispel a few of them and people need to understand all the facts, not just those others would want us to hear.

  • USA

    Here in the States in is not unknown to pick something up (every last brick) and place it somewhere else. This could potentially be done with the prison cells. I’m sure you have some folks with degrees in obscure disciplines such as Archaeological Engineering. Indeed some wonderful work has already been done in this field in places such as the Ulster Folk Museum at Cultra and the Ulster American Folk Museum in Omagh. I believe both places have successfully presented the subject matter well and maintained its integrity even thought the houses etc have been moved from their original locations.

    I don’t know much about the soccer field proposals other than here in the US these things are left to the private sector, and tax dollars are not used to subsidize “for profit” sporting associations.

    With regard to the deaths of hunger strikers, I don’t think any of us can comment with any degree of certainty about what went on during negotiations at that time.