“talk of the devolution of Justice now is premature..”

The Alliance Party leader David Ford’s speech at his party’s conference touched on the devolution of policing and justice powers and the currently deadlocked Executive. Adds iol report here.

That is why talk of the devolution of Justice now is premature. Alliance always said that we needed to see a stable Executive working well for a period before Justice could be devolved. I remember suggesting that that time period could be expressed as ‘two marching seasons’.

Well, two marching seasons have come and gone since the current Executive took power last year. We have seen a much more peaceful atmosphere on the streets but instability in the Executive. The condition is now reserved: the people need to see stability in the Executive before there could be devolution of Justice to deal with issues on the streets.

And he listed some areas of concern for his party

There are also real issues to be addressed about policing and justice. The last issue is who the Minister might be in some future hypothetical circumstances. We will use any influence we have to deal with the real issues that matter. They include all the following points:

The current budget for justice is inadequate to meet the needs of a society in transition, with massive investment needed to improve buildings and IT equipment alone. Yet it is only guaranteed for a couple of years under the current spending round. Devolution of power just as the Treasury squeezes spending would be disastrous.

The current manpower of the Police Service, at 7,500 officers, would be cut to 6,028 in two years under Treasury projections. If we are going to make real progress on removing physical barriers and reducing psychological barriers, we need to be investing in community policing.

My vision of a police officer is not of a man in riot gear waving a truncheon beside an armoured Landrover. My vision is of a well-educated man or woman meeting the local community while out on the beat and working with other agencies to solve problems and meet local needs. It needs investment, but it pays dividends in the long-term.

When people complain about the Courts and the criminal justice system, it is generally to complain about delays and poor treatment of the victims of crime. That requires investment and leadership to build on some recent pioneering work in a few areas.

When I meet people on the streets of South Antrim, they don’t regard devolution of justice as the number one issue. The few who do mention it tend to suggest that they would trust Alliance to do the job fairly. That trust is something hard-earned and we are not going to throw it away.

We will play a constructive part in any way we can. But we will not be used to apply a sticking plaster over a serious fault line within the Executive. There must be fundamental reforms. I care too deeply about the future of this society to prop up a failing sectarian and sectional Executive.

, , , ,

  • DC

    Of course this fault line is really the party political interpretation of historical situations which informs approaches to demands on justice.

    It is these two split narratives that will make justice issues so damn difficult to operate and therefore legislate and execute.

    Take historical enquires, any new case to be opened would require assembly approval if justice were devolved – now could you really imagine the DUP-SF coming to terms of agreement on this whenever their own narratives are not reconciled to allow a way forward.

    The peace process was about justice for peace and structurally speaking it should be devolved and I think that it should happen to show the nationalists that people in NI aren’t against them on divisive political terms and are prepared to close devolution.

    But it will require the utmost innovative political handling and sadly folks the Unionists aint got it given their own narrative and their ineptness to even tap into positive and good relations mood to overcome this logjam.

    Big problems on the way unless a skilful and nimble political player enters the scene because as we have seen in the Fermanagh by-election it is still the politics of factions, and so too negative narratives of two mindsets in one system.

    But Sinn Fein are at it too, re negative narratives, as shown on Slugger O’Dowd was on BBC playing the green card hard to Peter Weir and he said that how would nationalists feel about Unionists removing a man from the ’26 counties’ a subtle reminder of the post-treaty statelet, thus still ignoring the outcome of the GFA which both sovereign powers and SF signed up to. But still, it seemed outdated to me all this ’26 counties’ talk and faintly embattled – when it shouldn’t be!

    The unionists must set that date as Brown states but even if they do they are unable to shift onto ground to keep NI operable in tandem with party leadership and leadership for NI, as this will require empathy with republican / nationalist grievances over justice issues, which clearly is not going to happen. It is a complete minefield with Unionists at the helm given where the DUP has come from over the last 10 years.

  • Dave

    “…require empathy with republican / nationalist grievances over justice issues…”

    The vast bulk of those with genuine grievances over “justice issues” were created by violent actions of “republican / nationalist” community, whereas prior to their demented sectarian murder campaign, the only group with a grievance were a few protestants and Catholics who didn’t like voting systems in council elections – and wrongly believed that voting privileges in local elections were ‘universal rights’ rather than at the discretion of national government.

    Instead of seeing themselves as the victims, they should acknowledge what they actually are: the victimizers who are responsible creating genuine victims where before there were only the margially disenfranchised.

  • DC

    Not true, the DUP claim moral clarity by premising this on foundations of State. Its party political edifice is conceived on this notion of the pureness of these structures and actions of the state remain guilt-free when up against ‘disloyal’ people.

    By selling and believing in this, ignoring the very contentious notion of state-let at that time too, it arrogantly laundered any guilt by letting the police take the strain, this over-abuse by police to those who were disenfranchised was the very basin in which the DUP could Pontius Pilot itself as a means to remain pure:

    “Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it done.”

    Overall the over-reaction caused those disenfranchised to react with even more over-reaction and it was a downward spin spun on by state mismanagement and retarded and botched IRA idealism, which had to come to end sooner rather than later. I don’t believe in the sick notions of martyrdom as played out by the Republican movement – take Mairead Farrell, she was a girl who died with her hands up and she didn’t take it to the British she took to leaving bombs in cars for someone else to come across in the name of this botched idealism that so sickened the movement towards unity in the end.

    This is why the war was called off, SF have probably have had this discussion in that in the end they lost good friends, soul mates, that spirit of human kinship is paramount not reducing people to little national playthings who must run around on ‘operative’ duties – it’s a shame what happened really.

    It will probably take the British and Irish government to drive this on because people haven’t the time nor money to get involved and get the message out that we just want to get on with our lives and take politics in our stride not held hostage to it, that’s the more realistic level of what it really means to people.

  • I blogged on the issue of an Alliance Justice Minister a couple of weeks back on http://www.oconallstret.com. This is what I said:

    The Alliance Party is engaged in talks with the DUP and Sinn Fein about the devolution of policing and justice. Many believe this engagement has the single objective of convincing Alliance to take on this Ministerial role upon devolution.

    Over the weekend I detected deep anger amongst SDLP supporters about all of this. It relates to the perception that the DUP and Sinn Fein seem determined to find a solution which prevents an SDLP MLA assuming the reigns in the new Department even though, under the D’hondt system, it is their turn.

    At the beginning of the summer the DUP and SF said they had agreed that neither party would take Justice. They never said this applied to the SDLP or the UUP, who also qualify for seats on the Executive. Why then this desperate attempt to get a party which does not qualify to hold the new department (because it does not have a big enough vote) ahead of the Party which does?

    All this puts the SDLP leadership and the two governments in a very difficult position. D’hondt is central to the power sharing institutions in the North. It allows power to be shared in a way which respects and recognises party mandates. It prevents bigger parties from behaving as if they were a majority government.

    As one senior commentator put it to me on Saturday, if the governments agree to a solution which gives Alliance control of policing and justice, they will be undermining not just the Good Friday Agreement but also giving the two fingers to the 105,000 people who voted for the SDLP.

    Powersharing, he said, would be in big trouble.

    It is nearly impossible to see how such an outcome could lead to anything but the SDLP’s withdrawal from the Executive.

  • DC

    Well in response Conall, if you don’t mind, rather than pull out of the executive why don’t you give us some substance as to why the ministry should be driven through under d’Hondt.

    In fact why don’t you give us some substance as to why it should even be devolved in the first place let alone explaining how two unreconciled narratives with particular DNA can be forged together.

    Durkan has been blowing hot cold, he blew hot cold over policing transfer, now he is blowing hot cold over ‘ugly scaffolding’. To me it seems he just used this as a means to threaten the texture of political landscape to frighten SF, but he has since reneged on it, capitulated to green sectarian haze. This in my view is clearly an abuse of a non-sectarian future playing on other people’s hopes for a fairer chance to politics. Durkan disgraced himself with this keynote speech for his lack of integrity with this key message – it appears it was party political and this was poor because he needs to be bigger than that.

    Besides, the SDLP are using ‘structural fundamentalism’ something they are apparently opposed to re the ‘ugly scaffolding’ speech, they are throwing this at SF to secure a seat, this is repugnant because it is not being bigger than the issue itself – which is reconciliation.

    Arguably, even if it was d’Hondt led, d’Hondt could be re-run with a reshuffle in mind, thus the DUP and SF could give up first choice leaving the UUP to take the seat under these conditions.

  • even though, under the D’hondt system, it is their turn

    Conall,

    you don’t really think the DUP, SF and UUP would leave the Justice Ministry for the SDLP to pick up if d’Hondt was rerun, do you?

    Is there any wonder why the SDLP is nicknamed the whinge party?

    SDLP withdrawal from the Executive would remove not only the best performing member of the Executive, but also undermine the best performing member of the SDLP. Removing Margaret Ritchie from office when by-elections show you are in real electoral trouble is not smart politics.

  • conor

    Just to get it clear, there is no threat from the IRA according to Brown and the IMC. A mjaority support the immediate transfer of powers. There is therefore no reason why the powers can’t be devolved immediately. Aside from unionist bigotry of course.

  • jerryp

    I think Browne should put it up to both sides ( DUP and SF ) by pulling the plug on the entire executive unless the two parties can jointly come up with a solution. They’re currently like crying babies running to either parent ( London and Dublin ) to complain about how they’re being ill treated by the other.It won’t be the end of the world if NI is effectively run by the Civil Service for a period. I’d say most of the citizens of the North have run out of patience with the two parties.

  • yingyangsang

    hello boys,
    I haven’t posted on this site for a long time, the last a call to pete to tell him that I was gone away to find how to hide my IP address and therefore have access to BBC I_something player.Haven’t figureed that lark out but anybody abroad or outside of rte’s “ireland of island of only” can be assured taht it can be easily be done.Anyone wants livefeed for kerry and the tyrone let me know.
    that a side,and no side in particuler, would any DUP supporter confirm that the st.andrews agreement has replaced the good friday agreement?
    Meaning articles 2 and 3 of my Irish constitution are based on Irish lanagauge acts and Devoultion of justice to the funny democracy pokery thing in Belfast?

  • yingyangsang

    simple matter of taking control at distance of a computer which falls with the internet domain desired.Frreaks my brother out everytime.
    Is the DUP going to eject theirself from the we are putting manners on the others.
    How can a press be so blind as to not be camping outside Paisleys house everyday.
    Was this the plan?
    Was this the chuckle?€€
    God bless Mr.Robinson.
    Does the St.Andrews agreement exist.
    is a target date just a& lack of pressure?

    if you are thick word id except

  • yingyangsang

    A problem from the very center.
    Head down and oranges at half time.
    Board game printed on box scotland yard.
    Belgian wife no harm just fun .Easy for the winners and that is not no Nuremburg shit.
    but thay are counting the skins those wierdos

    on a gagné!
    On a gagné!

    People are paid to forget what they do.
    I may beleive in the Irish Republic.I may not(.
    But Do not.

    Come’on.
    If nobody wins and if some how we can get to there without assannating the Republicans
    Shouldn’t we have a united Ireland and tell the traitors to feck back to London

    funny word.degree

  • yingyangsang

    Posted at least 18 months ago that from
    a An Irish point of view we needed to keep the Brits involved until point IRB.
    Segratation suits better the goal of sleepy incermentalism and boil the boot theory than any joint rule which could always beat back brit slip into the UK.As little as reported as seems delgihtful for now, but getting so out for the DUP that they may be beyond return.And tue uuupppu beyond the the Neo ss
    I don’t think we need to fear that sutuation.Not yet:.IRB
    .
    However.Interesting Days!!!

  • yingyangsang

    and girls, of course.
    Excusez-moi les filles

  • yingyangsang

    http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=dYjEwZV4_7c&feature=related

    and we jump
    and we are little bumps
    and w e jump!!!!

  • LURIG

    YAAAAWWWWWNNNNNN! This is just the ‘neutral’ Alliance party (HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!) touching it’s natural Unionist base. Of course when all is said and done Alliance will row in behind Unionism’s stance of NO devolved policing and justice, is ANYONE really surprised? I get pissed off this crowd pretending to be ALL things to ALL people, especially when they try to convince Nationalists they are not as rabidly LOYAL as the DUP & UUP particularly when we all know they are! There is nothing to be gained in trying to be an awfully NICE Unionist bigot, Alliance people should stop the guff and join the DUP or UUP!

  • yingyangsang

    True mon ami.
    Aliance stands for “how it is” in other words unionist

  • yingyangsang

    seriously ill?
    I mean com’on did he have the flu?
    Or was it the other coment.The A-Political one?
    well paid them lads
    and u want to clse the exutive.Them lads fout rien

  • yingyangsang

    so you are republican or else you are not.
    The Northern island of ireland cannot exist
    Be happy until point IRB.Everybody smile now.60 years and feck britland

  • DC

    Ying that is just fucked up, but i like it…

  • Comrade Stalin

    LURIG,

    Your contributions generally read like a confused and bitter rant. I probably shouldn’t be that surprised, given your recent record of posting prejudiced bigotry about muslims.

    YAAAAWWWWWNNNNNN! This is just the ‘neutral’ Alliance party (HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!) touching it’s natural Unionist base.

    I am an Alliance supporter. I do not come from a “natural unionist base”, my family have never voted for any kind of unionist, and I know many other supporters who are likewise. I am not a unionist, which means that I do not particularly mind the prospect of agreed Irish reunification, indeed there are many aspects to it that I would look forward to. I just don’t think it’s the big issue at the moment.

    I am not sure what “natural unionist base” is being touched here, given that the DUP and SF have jointly been behind efforts to persuade Alliance to take the policing and justice seat.

    At the moment, a very plain reading of the current circumstances at Stormont shows that Alliance are not, presently, the stumbling block. At the moment there is no executive, except on paper; Sinn Fein are blocking executive meetings. Whether or not they are justified in doing this is another matter. In any case, whether the executive has been meeting or not, it has spent the last 18 months achieving nothing. No progress on selection, no progress on a sports stadium, and very little progress even on their extremely modest (by the standards of other UK regional devolved administrations) Programme for Government, which they spent many months drafting during the talks process which lead up to devolution being reinstated.

    The absence of devolved policing and justice, right now, is a sideshow. It’s the absence of functioning government which is the real problem here, and it looks like a problem which you are happy to overlook. David Ford’s speech was pretty clear; there won’t be devolution of policing and justice in the absence of a functioning government.

    What I think you should asking is – why can the DUP and Sinn Fein not agree to devolve policing and justice without having to involve Alliance ?

    Of course when all is said and done Alliance will row in behind Unionism’s stance of NO devolved policing and justice, is ANYONE really surprised?

    This is not unionism’s stance, nor is it Alliance’s stance.

    I get pissed off this crowd pretending to be ALL things to ALL people,

    In what way are Alliance pretending to be all things to all people ? Give me an example.

    If your complaint is that Alliance is trying to represent the interests of all the people, then I make no apology for it. The party’s position is fairly simple – people here deserve better government than what we’re getting from the numptys up the hill. We are quite plainly not getting good government, or indeed any kind of government, from the parties that we have charged with delivering it.

    especially when they try to convince Nationalists they are not as rabidly LOYAL as the DUP & UUP particularly when we all know they are!

    Can you explain, then, why Alliance has supported the election of two Sinn Fein Lord Mayors in Belfast ? Are loyal unionists generally known for promoting a voluntary powersharing arrangement at any level ?

    Alliance has a long history of being a thorn in the side of unionism. Look at what goes on up in the DUP’s Kremlin in Castlereagh for example. Of course, these are facts your tunnel vision is incapable of seeing. To you, anyone who is not a nationalist must be a unionist. There’s very little that I or anyone else can say to snap you out of that delusion, but hope springs eternal.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Conall:

    Over the weekend I detected deep anger amongst SDLP supporters about all of this. It relates to the perception that the DUP and Sinn Fein seem determined to find a solution which prevents an SDLP MLA assuming the reigns in the new Department even though, under the D’hondt system, it is their turn.

    Conall,

    It has been plainly obvious since the St Andrew’s negotiations, and indeed since before then, that the DUP-SF unholy coalition was indeed conspiring in just the way that you described. During the whole time, the SF and DUP members have been conspiring and colluding together about how to control the executive, outside of the executive meetings, like a couple of dodgy poker players. This came to an early peak when they tried to sideline your minister. Fortunately they failed, but they only failed due to the strength of personality that the minister brought to the job. They could quite easily have beaten a lesser person into the ground.

    I’m sorry to have to say “I told you so” but I am afraid that this is nothing other than an outworking of the SDLP’s vision of agreement and government in Northern Ireland. The SDLP’s view of the world for a long time was that to secure agreement we would need to have two large parties largely in control, with the extremists also shoehorned into the system in order to placate them. You didn’t envisage that this would be turned upside down and that the extremeists would soon succeed you, but to the rest of us this was plainly obvious. Now you are finding that the system that you designed is actively working to marginalize you. Fate is not without a certain sense of irony.

    At the beginning of the summer the DUP and SF said they had agreed that neither party would take Justice. They never said this applied to the SDLP or the UUP, who also qualify for seats on the Executive. Why then this desperate attempt to get a party which does not qualify to hold the new department (because it does not have a big enough vote) ahead of the Party which does?

    Because :

    – Sinn Fein doesn’t want you getting a key ministry and using it to win popularity by potentially taking the credit for law and order improvements in the neighbourhoods, such as West Belfast, where they are strong.

    – the DUP doesn’t want the UUP taking it because they want to eliminate that party from the face of the earth and be the sole voice of unionism.

    For those two parties, Alliance fits in nicely because they don’t believe that party is a threat to either of their long term electoral interests.

    Thanks to the “closed-door corner-huddle with the British government” way of securing agreement, a John Hume innovation, these two parties can now easily persuade the British government to introduce legislation to do things whatever way they want.

    All this puts the SDLP leadership and the two governments in a very difficult position. D’hondt is central to the power sharing institutions in the North. It allows power to be shared in a way which respects and recognises party mandates.

    Even now you’re still not getting it. The SDLP’s share of power in the executive clearly does not recognize the SDLP’s mandate. Whatever makes you think that it does ?!?

    It prevents bigger parties from behaving as if they were a majority government.

    But the two biggest parties are clearly able to work together to marginalize the smaller parties. At the same time, the parties cannot agree to exclude from government a party which has decided to block the system (Sinn Fein).

    d’Hondt is the reason for all of our problems. Because the parties can’t be put out of government, they have no motivation to work together or agree about how to run the government.

    As one senior commentator put it to me on Saturday, if the governments agree to a solution which gives Alliance control of policing and justice, they will be undermining not just the Good Friday Agreement but also giving the two fingers to the 105,000 people who voted for the SDLP.

    The SDLP has spent the last decade or so deliberately trying to undermine those who voted Alliance. Granted, it’s not 105,000 voters, but you designed a system of government which was specifically intended to institutionalize and consolidate your own position and marginalize those who did not see the world in the same way that you did. I’m sorry that you’re having to get a taste of your own medicine. I hope that it causes you to think more carefully about the way that this place needs to be governed, rather than regarding the system of goverment as the means to secure your own long-term position in power.

    It is nearly impossible to see how such an outcome could lead to anything but the SDLP’s withdrawal from the Executive.

    The SDLP should have withdrawn from the executive a long time ago as soon as this farce began to play out. But the promise of a ministerial car and ministerial power were just to much, weren’t they ?

  • IJP

    Conall

    It is also incorrect to say that Alliance is/was engaged in discussions with the DUP and SF over this – if it were, the DUP and SF wouldn’t have made such fools of themselves by declaring the Ministry Alliance’s at the same time Alliance was rejecting it!

    For the record, the Alliance Party has sought meetings with all four parties, not about Policing and Justice, but about resolving the outstanding issues required before any such discussion, and about whether the Shared Future agenda can not be placed on the political priority list (as its absence so far has contributed to gridlock).

    For the record also, the Unionist parties both responded to this offer – neither Nationalist party did.

    Therefore, the Alliance Party has met the DUP, but Policing and Justice was barely raised; and the Alliance Party has not met Sinn Féin at all (no doubt because it’s too busy trying to work out why it’s really in a huff to start with).

  • IJP

    whether the Shared Future agenda can not be placed on the political priority list

    Sorry: whether the Shared Future agenda can now be placed on the political priority list

  • yingyangsang

    hey dc.Politics are tough and thick./of course its fucked up
    This mirror is free,by the map.
    Nothing haas changed since 3000 years.We are just better pretenders!

  • yingyangsang

    I mean there actually exists people who would kill for religion, and not even land or pride.
    Now see the irish republic has gone full round.I would say to any protestant that they are not protestant.
    I believe in a relationship between myself and god.No one else is involved.Insn’t that protestanism
    The essense of it is no organisation of religion and then they go and organise that!!
    the catholics have understood that Rome does not work.We are the true Prods.
    Long live ireland and fuck off ye wanna be prods/unionists!!
    We have put it to test and found the result is prod.Prods in the North have bluffed

  • yingyangsang

    Protestant sits at the side of the pool and says its cold.
    He is right.
    Catholic jumped in and found it was cold.
    They both go home and cannot agree?

    comon—thats IRB if ever there was

  • Comrade Stalin

    yingyangsang,

    What are you, the latest reincarnation of Dr Timothy Leary ?

  • yingyangsang

    Thank you mr stalin
    Thank you? by the way he never realy took the acid
    go on the RED HAND!!!

  • LURIG

    Comrade Stalin,

    “Prejudiced against Muslims”??????????? Please provide examples of this before I complain to the moderators of this thread. I hold to NOT playing the man so I would be interested to know where you take the line that I am intolerant towards Muslims???? N.B. I would ask the MODS to clarify this point as I can’t recall anything I have posted as being anti-Muslim!

  • DC

    seriously ill?
    I mean com’on did he have the flu?
    Or was it the other coment.The A-Political one

    Definitely acid.

  • Comrade Stalin

    LURIG,

    You posted a long diatribe a couple of months ago about how the Muslims were trying to take over and impose Sharia Law on everyone. If you’re still denying it, I’ll go off and search for it.