As the iol report notes, the scheduled Assembly and Executive Review Committee meeting “was cancelled at short notice today”. Instead the DUP’s Ian Paisley Jnr and Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd appeared on Stormont Live “tearing strips off each other over what their two parties did or did not agree on devolving policing and justice.” The first problem for John O’Dowd, and Sinn Féin, is that their truncated quoting of the relevant line of the letter co-signed by Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson doesn’t do what they claim it does – i.e. time-limit the agreed mechanism for electing a Justice Minister. Although there does seem to be a time limit for one element of that letter of agreement – that neither the DUP nor Sinn Féin would nominate someone for the first term. Secondly, they don’t appear to be able to quote anything in the letter which does time-limit the agreed mechanism. And, finally, the mutual veto that a cross-community vote represents is actually a logical compromise for such a political sensitive post. Of course, the parties could always change the mechanism at a later date.. provided they could agree. Second part of clip below the fold.
And that line from the letter of agreement again.
“We believe that your consideration should be based on a single department in which policing and justice powers would reside with a single Minister elected at all times from the Assembly in a way which would ensure cross-community support.”