“And we have kept that promise..”

The transcript of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s speech is online. The key paragraphs would appear to be

So my message to you today is to have confidence. To stay the course, to continue your work and reach that final settlement. To show the world the peace and prosperity you have achieved is here to stay. And if you make this commitment, then we in the British government will match your resolve and do everything within our power to support you in it.

Because we have not only prepared the ground for the transfer, but we stand ready to help you through a smooth transition. We pledged in the St Andrew’s Agreement that we would be ready to transfer powers one year after the assembly was elected. And we have kept that promise.

So now leaders here in Northern Ireland must reach agreement between themselves and set the date for the transfer of policing and justice from the Secretary of State to a Justice Minister, in and of Northern Ireland. None of us should doubt the importance of this. Because in the agreement you reach here among yourselves, in the transfer of these powers back from Westminster, the world will see you affirm that stability is here to stay.

Which is, actually, very much where we were. [added link]

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  • ulsterfan

    The speech was one of encouragement for both sides.
    If he used the phrase “Northern Ireland” once, he must have said it twenty times.
    There was nothing very new except calling for a date to devolve P&J;.
    That date has already been given to all who listen—-the powers can be transferred when the Unionist community have confidence they will be properly used.

  • DC

    The GFA was always about this: justice for peace.

    End of.

  • slug

    A strange atmosphere among the MLAs, who looked very provincial, but the Prime Minister delivered the speech well, despite his having a really terrible time on the national stage.

  • Dave

    “The GFA was always about this: justice for peace.”

    So the Provos were champions of justice? Peace is just an absence of active murder gangs. It’s nothing to do with justice or the GFA since sectarian gangs that specialise in violating human rights tend not to be concerned about human rights, nor are those who dispense summary justice via kangaroo courts concerned about justice.

    Gordon, unlike Bertie “I won it on the horses” Ahern, made no allusion to devolution of P and J holding any status other than at the discretion of the parties.

  • DC

    “So the Provos were champions of justice?”

    No, poisonous collateral.

  • USA

    The speech was full on “unionist” type language but the messege was clear, the British government want to see the devolution of P+J. Ah hello unionism! That makes it Britain, the Northern nationalists, the Irish government, Washington DC in fact anyone involved in the process. This was always the case and despite todays diplomatic public posturing I have no doubt that behind closed doors Peter Robinson will be made aware of what he has to do.
    Look for Jim Alister’s attack when Peter Robinson tries to fulfill his obligations.

  • Dave

    Poisonous collateral, yes. If 3000 lives and tens of thousands of maimed people were worth a few concesssions, then you’re all degenerates.

  • ciaran

    ulsterfan, that is not a date, more like one of those stupid soundbites given out when someone is about to do the opposite of what they say.

  • [aside]Meanwhile over on the Davenport Diaries SF’s Daithi McKay wants Rathlin Island to become a tax haven!!

    If Daithi is so interested in Rathlin’s fate why did Gerry Adam’s visit to the island last week not rate a mention on the Sinn Fein website?

    Why did Daithi not make an appearance when Michael McGimpsey visited the island recently – by private rib rather than the state subsidised ferry?

    Perhaps he’s still trying to figure out why key changes were made to the tender documents without apparent ministerial intervention.

    When he does perhaps he could assist the investigators with their inquiries.

    Bring back Jim Hacker!!

    Will Sammy Wilson be the next minister to pay an official/unofficial visit to the sceptred isle – with a Brucie bonus?

  • DC

    Why did Daithi call for it, well the same way the SNP have been calling for removal of nuclear submarines out of the Clyde, because it is popular in its sentiment but they can do nothing about, thus levering more nationalist favour.

    Didn’t you feel good about it when ya read though?

  • Quagmire

    The DUP are really going to have to bite the P&J;bullet. If they don’t then no meeting for Thursday and if theres no meeting for Thursday then hopefully Stormont will fall for the last time, never to return. Here’s hoping!

  • slug


    “The DUP are really going to have to bite the P&J;bullet. If they don’t then no meeting for Thursday and if theres no meeting for Thursday then hopefully Stormont will fall for the last time, never to return. Here’s hoping! ”

    Well your priorities are clear anyway.

  • Quagmire

    “Well your priorities are clear anyway.”
    Posted by slug on Sep 16, 2008 @ 07:05 PM


  • Dewi

    It’s the DUP in a hole. Through their bluster and inane petty “deadline” nonsense they have managed to construct a narrative whereby any movement in P&J;is somehow a defeat – bizarre.
    The latest IMC report an ideal opportunity to bite the bullet – but no.
    I’m certain that there are logistical issues with the transfer that might take time to manage through (surely that could have appeased the rightists) – however it is now down to the old “No
    one likes us – we don’t care” – Sad.

    “the powers can be transferred when the Unionist community have confidence they will be properly used.”

    Specifically Ulster Fan?

  • Dalriada

    I think the tax haven idea for Rathlin is a great one which has been floated already in regard to the Aran Islands and could be used to breathe new life into the island whose population is ever-decreasing, and improve the island economically. I mean why not? Its an ambitious idea and I can’t see any real disadvantages with it.


  • Dalriada

    I also suspect that the Rathlin tax haven question is an effort by McKay to highlight the possible advantages of devolved fiscal and taxation powers to his constituents. Hes hardly going to lose votes over it!!!

  • Once upon a time, the Northern Ireland question had some significance in U.K. politics. That was then: this is now.

    The only hope for NI reclaiming any degree of attention is either a return to mass civil disorder or a hung Parliament, where a Tory PM is dependent on two or three Unionist votes. Take your pick. (On third thoughts, that makes the NI Assembly less important than the LibDem Conference: think about it.)

    Meanwhile, the dogs bark and the caravan is already over the next berm.

    So, when anyone speaks of the problem being (here comes a term long overdue for clarification) “unionist” unreadiness to treat, let’s all recognise what that means: an over-inflated sense of self-importance.

    Sooner or later (please, let it be sooner: we’re already a decade on from “pacification”), the ground-swell of public opinion will say that we want to take over local responsibilities. Otherwise, it’s continued colonial status. That puts the six counties on a par with Gibraltar, the Falklands, Bermuda (hoorah! Send a fascistophile abdicated Duke!), Ascension, St Helena (useful for ex-French Emperors, if you’ve got one: arsenical wallpaper soon solves that problem), and Sweet Rockall.

  • Toby

    The basic problem is that Sinn Feinn are more concerned about symbols and have no interest in ensuring good Government in Northern Ireland, even if that means their own contituents suffer. Although they did appear to be making an effort upon the restoration of devolution, perhaps reflecting their weakness in the Irish elections and hence the need to build a reputation for competency, they have now regressed. I know you could turn the argument back on the DUP (why not just devolve P&J;and get on with it) but, my feeling is that it would just be another isue and another. In addition, it does appear that SF simply don’t care if the real decisions about peoples everyday lives are not made- surely there could have been a different way to force the DUPs hand than holding up the Executive or do nationalists no suffer Fuel Poverty etc?

    Whilst some contributors have been pretty light hearted about the fall of the Assembly, there are some pretty tough choices to be made and I shudder to think what kind of mess the latest Labour reject will make of it.

  • Note: the following topic is not to be addressed by history or politics students.

    All potential students of language, orthography and social pathology should weigh, balance, consider and analyse the following statement:

    The basic problem is that Sinn Feinn are more concerned about symbols and have no interest in ensuring good Government in Northern Ireland, even if that means their own contituents suffer.[© Toby on Sep 16, 2008 @ 09:16 PM]

    Confine your response to one side of the answer paper .

  • USA

    P+J is fundamental to Sinn Fein and has been since the Ard Feis that got the Shinners on board with policing.
    It’s been obvious for years.
    Surely Peter knew this, which begs the question “did he mis play his hand”.
    I agree with Dewi that the unionists had plenty of time to sort this one out. Instead they chose to behave in a very politically immature fashion. Did they actually believe their own spin on the St Andrews Agreement?
    Now the DUP are in a corner and the TUV are waiting to steal some of Robinsons barley juice. I think they will indeed drink from his glass as now he has to move on P+J or the assembly falls, and every major player will blame the DUP. That can’t be good for the DUP or “NI”. Again, I am dismayed that many of the unionist posters on Slugger were simply so far wrong on this issue. It makes me think that they still have a very long way to go before they understand the project of building a democratic pluralist society. Unfortunately for unionism, this transition to a more civil pluralist society only holds more problems.
    I also agree with Malcolm about your local politicians having an inflated view of their own importance. London sees Belfast as a headache, Dublin’s view is not much different and Washington doesn’t really care anymore.
    Dewi is again correct that in the unlikely event of a hung parliament in London the Lib Dems and others may hold more sway in London than the DUP.
    The irony of course is that Sinn Fein may have calculated that London and its pluralist democratic values are better partners than the unionists. If the assembly falls look for the the ILA being brought in by London as an “up yours” to the DUP.

  • eranu

    this P+J thing is getting extremely boring. they should just devolve it and give it to the shinners for the craic. imagine the squirming gerry kelly would have to do when it would be his job to insure that crims, including plenty of republicans, get banged up asap. its difficult enough for many shinners to say anything good about the police, imagine the strain they will be under when they have to ‘switch sides’ and represent the entire policing and justice system. the facial contortions during awkward interviews will make spectacular tv!

  • ryan


    Orangism is moving into minority status at a rapid clip. If they do not make peace with Republicanism they will decay further into a small bigoted party within the Irish Republic. Why? Because the DUP cannot make peace. This means the end of Stormont. This means that power will go to Dublin and London. But you know what? London does not want the north of Ireland anymore. So they will gradually cede all contol over the stolen counties back to the irish in Dublin where the government will finally rule a united ireland.
    Posted by ryan on Sep 17, 2008 @ 09:36 PM