“Failure to have a properly functioning Executive is stalling progress on policing and justice..”

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been speaking out again about what he thought he had delivered at St Andrews [Added video]. But it’s not exactly what he told Frank Millar previously. According to the BBC report

[Ahern] said the DUP was “well aware” of the British and Irish governments’ commitment to the deadline for such a transfer. “It should have been long done by this stage,” he said. … Mr Ahern said he understood unionists needed to feel “certainty” in order to establish trust with republicans and felt the IRA perhaps needed to spell out its intentions more clearly.

And in the Irish Times

Mr Ahern said: “I have to restate again, because it was part of these discussions and talks, the devolution of policing was not predicated on the army council doing this, that or the other. “It was not on that. It was a solemn agreement that the Irish Government, the British government were engaged and involved in, that said we would have the devolution of policing, that was the effect of it.”

The British and Irish governments might have had a “solemn agreement”, they might also have been committed to that target date, but as Eamonn McCann put it, what was written down was “a semantic mile short of a deadline”. Not to mention a deadline which could not be enforced. So what’s Bertie up to? Looks very much like political cover.. Meanwhile, with some sleight of hand to allow attendance at the British Irish Council, also in the Irish Times.

Addressing the Northern Ireland branch of the Confederation of British Industry yesterday, Mr Robinson referred to the impasse that has stalled the Executive since June. “There is no political, logical, moral or legal justification for blocking Executive meetings,” he said. “I am ready to convene a meeting at any time. The sooner the better.” Linking this to ongoing talks on the transfer of justice powers, a key Sinn Féin demand, Mr Robinson said: “Failure to have a properly functioning Executive is stalling progress on policing and justice.

“Not unreasonably, I want to ensure there is community confidence for these powers being devolved and when structures are agreed which meet the proper and understandable concerns of the public on this matter, then I and my colleagues will actively seek that community support.” The DUP leader believes devolution depends on an acceptable agreement being reached with Sinn Féin on how any new justice department is to be run.

Update Ian Paisley Snr responds to Bertie Ahern’s comments. And Here are those comments by Bertie Ahern.

  • Jer

    The prefered terminology is Iar-Taoiseach not former. Only preferred by Bertie himself though.

    The phenomenon of Bertie thinking one thing, doing another and remembering a third is well recorded at this stage.
    It seems like he will continue to involve himself as a bit player in the process despite his relegation to the back benches.

    So was devolved Policing a plan B option if it was independent of any actions of the IRA’s Army council.
    Is a plan B the way to do this. Maybe the DUP should be listening to that part because it sounds like they can manage the devolution or watch it implemented.

    On an unrelated side note I noticed the word submission box is very buggy in Google chrome. I could only see the first two letters and had to guess the 3rd.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    So what’s Bertie up to?

    He’s reminding the DUP of what they should be doing. This is not based on what the STA said or didnt say but what the main powerbrokers in this sitaution require of them.

    Of course nobody can force the DUP to do soemthing they dont want to – but the DUP must be prepared to pay a political price for not meeting their obligations.

    Dodsie’s intervention looked like a hardening of position but like Turgon’s gal Martina Purdy said recently this often happens before a deal.

  • fair_deal

    “the IRA perhaps needed to spell out its intentions more clearly.”

    The best and most convincing statement of intentions is to go away.

  • dewi

    Or be legalised fair deal? Needs a bit of imagination I recognise but seems the appropriate next step IMHO.

  • Perhaps Bertie has forgotten his earlier thoughts on paramilitaries and democracies:

    The future of Ireland will be defined by democracy, not by paramilitaries of any description. We will not abdicate our responsibilities to uphold the democratic values of our Republicanism. Our Constitution provides for only one army, one Óglaigh na hÉireann. With the Good Friday Agreement and its implementation, there remains no conceivable justification for maintaining paramilitary armies. Democracy and private armies do not mix.

    If that’s good enough for Ireland it should be good enough for here, Bertie.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘If that’s good enough for Ireland it should be good enough for here, Bertie.’

    I’m sorry to hear you have left Ireland -Nevin – finally had enough of Moyle I suppose – Not that I blame you . I trust the weather in Sunderland or Dumbarton is to your liking .

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    re. “On an unrelated side note I noticed the word submission box is very buggy in Google chrome.”

    Using IE 7 and Slugger said I had not entered word correctly when it was?

  • Greenflag, we’ve had a spell of very good weather in the Kingdom of Moyle recently. Perhaps I should have put Ireland in quotation marks as Bertie was referring to the 26 counties. Dumbahern?

  • fair_deal

    “Or be legalised fair deal? Needs a bit of imagination I recognise but seems the appropriate next step IMHO”

    LOL yes that’ll really help the selling of P&J;powers

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    Ireland is not stroke city 🙂

    Delighted to hear you have returned from overseas:)

  • dunreavynomore

    a legalised I.R.A, Dewi, that would be some craic. Would they have to vow to protect the state be it ‘Here, the North, the 6 co’s or whatever’? What sort of an I.R.A. would want to be legalised in a still partitioned Ireland?

  • Jer

    so google chrome is off the hook. must be a bug in the system.

  • I haven’t been away you know, Greenflag 🙂

    You’re never too sure with Bertie when it comes to ‘Ireland’ – 26 or 32 – but he’s probably never to sure himself.

  • bisto

    The Big Man’s response:

    North Antrim DUP MP, Dr. Ian Paisley has responded to the recent comments made by Bertie Ahern in relation to the devolution of policing and justice powers to Stormont. He has re-affirmed that the party made no commitment whatsoever in relation to a date for devolution, let alone the devolution of policing and justice powers. Dr. Paisley referred Mr. Ahern to the statement which he had made as leader of the DUP at the conclusion of the St. Andrews talks. Speaking today Dr Paisley said,

    “The DUP never discussed Policing and Justice powers with Mr. Ahern as this is an internal Northern Ireland affair. The party has consistently made clear that we are under no legal obligation to give our assent for the devolution of policing and justice powers. We are not time bound by any commitment. Mr. Ahern is well aware of that.

    Mr. Ahern says the disbandment of the IRA’s illegal Army Council should not be a precondition for devolution of these powers. Given the shameful record of capitulation that Messer’s Ahern and Blair had when dealing with Republicans, people shouldn’t really be surprised to hear such comments. It may not be a matter of concern to Mr. Ahern, but it is relevant to the people of Northern Ireland.

    The party has correctly judged that the devolution of policing and justice powers can only occur at such a time as when there is sufficient confidence within the community that allows for the unlocking of the triple lock. That is the position that I and my colleagues negotiated at St. Andrews and it remains the DUP position today.

    At St. Andrew’s, on the 13th October 2006 I said:

    “There is no definitive date for the devolution of policing and justice powers. We remain of the unshakable view that those powers can only be transferred whenever there is the required community confidence.”

    The DUP position is totally unchanged from the time of St. Andrews. No commentary from Bertie Ahern after the event will alter that.”

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    Berty’s contribution is not of any great value except that it helps to keep the pressure on the DUP – where it belongs. Even taking the statement above on its own merit, without allowing for what was alleged to have been said or hinted elsewhere, the DUP are now required (by the Engleze and Irish governments and others) to jump/move/get their fingers out/etc. and no amount of quoting from the STA will alter that.

    I suppose it givs them political cover until they magic up the required Unionist confidence – they would ideally wait until after the European elections (to keep big Jimbo off their backs ) but Stormo will be long gone if they go for that option.

  • Comrade Stalin

    and no amount of quoting from the STA will alter that.

    So is it your position that it is right to hold parties to a promise that they never made ? I’m still not under the impression that the DUP are under any pressure. They *might* be if it wasn’t for SF blocking the executive from meeting.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Jeez its me old Mucker Comrade,

    parties are under pressure, depending on the circumstances and the politics of the day, to do various things all the time – irrespective of what pieces of paper they have or have not signed.

    The DUP are politically isolated on this issue and failure to get off their arse will result in no more Stormo and that translates in my book into political pressure – as I think they quite like Stormo and may not like the alternative.

  • percy

    “escalating it, is never a good idea” — Bertie Aherne

  • Belfast Gonzo

    From what I can gather, it seems that the post-St Andrews DUP equates “confidence in the [unionist] community” with the “IRA army council disbanding”.

    This begs a few questions:

    – what if the IRA council never goes away?

    – what if the IRA council is actually on the DUP’s side? If, for example, it’s passing information on violent dissidents to the security forces (according the IMC, which the DUP has often placed faith in – and we know that SF has hardly a bad word to say about MI5 these days), keeping discipline internally and thus maintaining the union, what is the DUP problem?

    Well, one problem is trust between the DUP and SF, and another is the TUV.

    The hint that the next BIC might go ahead, coupled with the mechanisms Mark Devenport was describing to keep political decisions ticking over suggests that there is some will to keep moving forward on the DUP leadership’s part.

    However, it is getting clearer and clearer that the DUP leadership is ‘doing a Trimble’ when it comes to Jim Allister’s innate ability to pick away at the Executive’s facade.

    That can be seen demonstrated in wee Jeffrey (oh, the irony) Donaldson bottling it in America last night after Gerry Kelly’s appearance on the Maze breakout programme; picking up a peace award jointly would have given the TUV ammo, so Jeffrey refused to appear. Understandable politically, but isn’t it about time the DUP faced the TUV down? In junior ministerial terms: Ex-UDR backs down to ex-PIRA.

    If the TUV’d stood in Fermanagh, there would be a SF councillor in Arlene Foster’s chair – and what an embarrassment it is that such a high profiler has to stand to guarantee such a lowly seat. (Course, the UUP fucked it up by dragging the kids into the row, but you expect the UUP to utterly fuck things up these days.)

    If the DUP think that the time isn’t right to take a stand, presumably we have to wait for (yet another election) before the party believes it has the strength to see off its critics.

    The problem is, can the Shinners wait that long while their own hardliners chip away from the other side?

    No wonder the DUP are so on-their-knees desperate to get Alliance into the justice ministry – fear of the hardliner.

    Plain and simple.

    Welcome to the new UUP.

    * I quite enjoyed that last Hearts & Minds. Much better than last week’s; anyone agree? Not sure why yet, maybe Julia Paul? By chance, spotted H&M;’s £12.50 ‘taxi driver’ Tim McGarry in the Duke of York earlier with Phil Jupitus…

  • DK

    Can’t they just award the army council a medal, re-name them the army service, introduce 50:50 recruiting and appoint an ombudsman to oversee them?

  • autocue

    Comrade Stalin has made a very insightful post. The DUP Made no promise in regard to P+J, how then can they be held to anything? As for the Shinners – if they want to bring the House down, I would imagine the DUP would be very happy to face the electorate on the basis of “this election is taking place because Sinn Fein have spat the dummy/endorse our standing up to the Shinners over P+J powers”.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘You’re never too sure with Bertie when it comes to ‘Ireland’ – 26 or 32 – but he’s probably never to sure himself.’

    Bertie’s a simple man – Ireland is Ireland and having to run a bank account while you are Minister of Finance is just a bridge too far 🙂

    At least he was sure about that wasn’t he ? Now that I think about about I’m beginning to lose all sense of certainty meself 🙁