“As of yet there is no date actually agreed by the politicians..”

“Rejoice, rejoice” were Jim Fitzpatrick’s opening comments on Stormont Live today, with perhaps just a soupçon of sarcasm.. Then to Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, MP, possibly overselling today’s announcement by comparing it with the Belfast and St Andrews Agreements – pointing out that they “did not agree a date or a process for the transfer of policing and justice”. By contrast, according to Shaun Woodward, today’s “historic agreement between the two party leaders” was “home-grown” [as opposed to the previous “indigenous” deal “put together by Sinn Féin and the DUP”? – Ed]. He does acknowledge also, “As of yet there is no date actually agreed by the politicians.” BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport suggests that “Sinn Féin must have some sort of private understanding of exactly how this will go.” Perhaps, Mark, perhaps.. although, we’ve heard about those private understandings before.. Below the fold, the UUP’s Reg Empey and the SDLP’s Alex Attwood, Shaun Woodward, again, the DUP’s Nelson McCausland and the Alliance Party’s David Ford. Noticeable by their absence were Sinn Féin who, despite being asked, failed to put anyone forward to talk on the programme about their agreed arrangements.. Adds Official statement. New letter to the Assembly Review Committee [pdf file]. And the new Process [pdf file].

Here’s the official announcement by the First and deputy First Ministers – no questions please.

The UUP’s Reg Empey and the SDLP’s Alex Attwood weren’t exactly on the same page, but they were both critical of the 152-day stand-off – part 2 here.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Shaun Woodward returns to try to generate more enthusiasm.

But the DUP’s Nelson McCausland was already plenty enthusiastic about the agreed deal.

And the Alliance Party’s David Ford rounds off the contributions to the discussion.

And where are we now? Working towards a time when conditions on the ground are suitable for the devolution of policing and justice powers. Let’s hope the foot-soldiers have been fully informed this time..

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  • joeCanuck

    I’d be utterly flabbergasted, Pete, if there wasn’t a privately agreed date. Otherwise it could be rightly considered that SF have just rolled over. That would be most surprising, given that they have had both (three?) governments on their side.
    It has all come down to face saving. Perhaps they had, or should have had, a Chinese mediator.

  • edward

    I think that SF is feeling enough confidence that they don’t need the public win and the DUPers are feeling enough pressure that they have to have atleast the appearance of winning

    I think this agreement is far more comprehensive then either party lets on

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’d be utterly flabbergasted, Pete, if there wasn’t a privately agreed date.

    Prepare to be flabbergasted.

    Otherwise it could be rightly considered that SF have just rolled over.

    It wouldn’t be the first time.

    That would be most surprising, given that they have had both (three?) governments on their side.

    A fact which, even if it were true, is irrelevant. Since when have local parties here done what they were told to do by the governments ? The three governments, right now, don’t have any teeth anywhere that matters. The British government might once have been able to use it’s majority to bully the DUP, but it’s majority has become ever slimmer and it now cannot do that. The Irish government might have promised sweetners in the form of cross-border money, but now it doesn’t have any money with which to do so. The Americans can only really threaten Sinn Fein, which they were able to successfully do to secure their support for policing – but in this case it wasn’t Sinn Fein who needed threatening.

  • Greenflag

    What matter if they have or haven’t . Give them another few weeks and it’ll be something else .
    Fire the lot and be done with the nonsense !

  • Dave

    “Fire the lot and be done with the nonsense !” – Greenflag

    I knew you’d eventually see sense about the EU.

    “Sinn Féin must have some sort of private understanding of exactly how this will go.” – Mark Devenport

    Strangely, this reminds me of what Freddie Scappaticci said about Adams, McGuinness & Co to the Cook Report team: “The media love to have, fucking, these theories, you know, that the IRA are masterminds and that. They’re not! They’re not, you know.”

  • Billy

    Comrade Stalin

    What Nonsense!

    There is no way that Robinson could have come out with a definite date – it would have been a Godsend to the TUV. I doubt that even Sinn Fein thought they would get that and they obviously have no interest in assisting the TUV.

    SF are under no threat whatsoever from the SDLP whereas the DUP do have to be wary of the TUV. I think it was important for Robinson to present a strong DUP presence on this to face down the inevitable broadside from Allister and the TUV.

    Sinn Fein, however, have no requirement to shout from the rooftops and are (wisely I think) keeping a low profile.

    As with most deals, it is a compromise. The arrangements for electing a minister are agreed and have a clear end date. Frankly I wouldn’t expect Unionists to accept a SF P&J;minister for some time – neither will Nationalists accept a DUP one (quite rightly). So again, it’s a fair compromise.

    As to the attorney General position, we seem to have another sensible compromise. Larkin has a record of working with both Nationalists and Unionists to the satisfaction of both. I don’t think too many people will have an issue should he decide to accept the position.

    The selection of Judges being done by an independent body is fine by me and I suspect with the majority of Nationalists. Again, I can understand why Unionists have an issue with SF selecting them but Nationalists certainly wouldn’t accept Unionists selecting them.

    UK Labour or Conservative politicians are not stupid – they will not appoint people to placate Unionists or Orangemen – they will appoint impartial people and, as a Nationalist, that’s all I want -it’s a big improvement on many decades of Unionist gerrymandering and discrimination.

    Given their poor negotiation at St Andrew’s, it was never likely that SF would get a definite date. I think the British govt also are aware that this would have given the TUV a major boost and didn’t want to undermine Robinson to that extent.

    There is no doubt that Sinn Fein handled this badly at St Andrew’s. However, they are not stupid. I don’t know if there is an exact date in private – probably more of a general understanding.

    If you really think that that the DUP can simply pretend this never happened and that they can go merrily on their way blocking anything and everything that could assist Nationalists, you’re living on another planet.

    If the DUP attempt to do so and renege on agreements (public or private), Sinn Fein should (and probably will) simply walk away. As long as SF meet their end of the bargain, the spotlight is on the DUP.

    Frankly, I’m quite impressed by this. I really thought that Robinson (and more importantly Dodds) wouldn’t face down the DUP backwoodsmen and reach a compromise. Perhaps there is hope for the assembly after all – time will tell.

    Under the arrangements agreed at St Andrews, the DUP did NOT have to agree to any of this. They clearly stated that this was their position when this impasse began and, equally clearly, this position has now changed.

    In any negotiation, you ask for more than you think you will get and/or you offer less than you are prepared to concede.

    Clearly Sinn Fein didn’t get as much as they asked for so there is compromise there.

    However, the DUP have conceded more than they initially offered (nothing!). If you think that the DUP weren’t under any pressure, you should stick to reading comics.

    I have little respect for any of the local politicians but, in this instance, they have done well. Hopefully, they can move forward from this.

  • Dave

    Billy, you’re buying a pup if you believe the propaganda that concerns about the TUV (a one-trick pony running in ever-decreasing circles in a small field) is anything other than a fig leaf to cover the DUP’s own reticence about moving too quickly on Peace & Justice. It is a myth to think that the DUP would embrace the Shinners’ concerns if only they didn’t have to worry about the advance of the bold Jimbo. They wouldn’t. Unlike the nationalists who don’t give a flying fig about the friends and families of the police members who were victims of Shinner violence, those people matter very much to the Unionists. As far as they are concerned, they are above politics. If the time isn’t right for devolution of Peace & Justice, then it won’t happen – it is a conditional commitment. It’s now up to the Shinners to “put manners” on their own people and prepare the groundwork for devolution.

  • Dave

    In case you missed the last reference: the Shinners promise to “put manners” on the police service on behalf of the nationalist community has been turned by the DUP to the Shinners putting manners on nationalist community on behalf of the police service.

  • edward

    Who really believes that if the DUPers saw this as a clear and unambiguous victory we wouldnt be treated to the spectacle of dodds ab robbo doing the chicken dance in the chamber at storomont?

    Theres much more to this deal than is being said or robbo would be baying at the moon

  • joeCanuck

    What the hell is going on? What happened to Fair Deal’s blog? Still linked to by Pete’s “and they’ve settled for that”.

  • Billy

    Dave

    I think you’ll find that putting “manners” on the Police Force referred to ensuring that they treat both sides of the community equally instead of being the bigotted, collusion ridden disgrace that the RUC was.

    The RUC is consigned to history (thank God) although it’s collusion with “loyalist” terrorists and blatent discrinination against Catholics is still being exposed ensuring that it’s reputation is dragged ever further into the mud (although not far enough for my liking).

    The PSNI is a vast improvement on the RUC (with the Catholic Recruit quota being a major factor) although there is still work to be done.

    The RUC never had nor deserved the support of the Catholic community.

    The PSNI are gradually earning that. However, Sinn Fein + the SDLP have ensured that they must act to the satisfaction of Nationalist politicians on Policing Boards and meet the standards of the oversight commissioner.

    Nationalists want a Police Force that they can particiapte in and support. They should have had that by right but instead we got the disgusting RUC.

    No longer do we see our Police forcing through unwanted Orange Parades, abusing Catholics at will, ignoring “Loyalist” terrorist activity (or even assisting with it).

    No-one is putting manners on the Nationalist community.

    We have succeeded in disposing of the B Specials, UDR, RIR Home Batallions and the RUC. We have indeed put close regulation (“manners”) on the PSNI.

    The fact that the DUP had to compromise on P+J or lose their precious assembly shows that we are gradually putting “manners” on them too.

    With each passing year, as the demographics change, we see more and more Nationalist control and influence.

    The days of Unionists putting “manners” on us are over and they won’t ever be coming back.

  • Driftwood

    I’m sure the vast majority of people here are over the moon. Recession? What recession? Eventually, sometime, we are going to have a (sort of) justice minister-probably Alliance. Well the construction industry will be singing ‘Hallelujah!’ Same with retail. Oh Happy Day!
    The cynics can cower back under their rocks now that the economic lifeboat has been launched!
    Power to the people.

  • Driftwood

    Billy
    What about the 5000 strong (British) army garrison, still here to support the police. Unlike the provo runaways, they haven’t gone away.
    Neither have their weapons. Who controls defence here, now and for the future?
    Who is going to put ‘manners’ on 2 Rifles, 1 Grenadier Guards, 3 Royal Scots, 38 Engineers, 42 Commando, Royal Horse Artillery, you?
    Maybe SF/PIRA?
    Didn’t think so.

  • josephine

    where’s sammy mcnally then at this moment when boots are lifted from necks? conveniently hiding somewhere, probably up his own rear end, no doubt! heh! heh! no date, a dup AG, a half-arsed process, great victory for grizzly!!

  • Billy

    Josephine

    “A DUP AG” – please go away and do some research before you come on here and display your stupidity yet again!.

    Failing that, please go and play in the traffic

    Driftwood

    What are you talking about?

    I was talking to my friends and family (as I no longer live in the North) and they were saying that they couldn’t remember the last time that they saw a British soldier.

    In fact, you are far more likely to see soldiers blocking Orange parades at Drumcree or dealing with “loyalist” rioting and that suits me.

    Anyway, with the British Army involved in 2 wars and stretched to capacity, I’m sure it won’t be too long before the contigent in the North dwindles even further.

    After all, the UK public have never been at all happy about “their” boys being wasted on a place that the vast majority don’t really consider to be a part of Britain and don’t give a shit about.

    Yep – in case you hadn’t realised it, that’s what the country that “Unionists” profess loyalty to think about them.

    My point was that the community is now getting a police force that contains fair representation from all communities and is there to protect all communities.

    I have no problem supporting that.

    I guess many Unionists aren’t happy that they no longer have “their” police force to keep the taigs in check and force through Orange parades but, as they say, tough shit.

    Things have changed a lot in the North over the last 10 years and will continue to do so as the demographics change.

    I’m sorry to disappoint you but the days of Unionist misrule and croppie lie down are gone forever.

  • USA

    Where did the other 81 post blog go on this topic?
    Wouldn’t suprise me if Peter Faker is behind its dissapearance

  • Dave

    Billy, I’ll think that you’ll find that Gerry Adams qualified his Ard Fheis speech after manners were put on him by Hugh Orde, Ian Paisley, et al, in reaction to it. A similar tone was set by Martin McGuiness when he tried to sell SF entering the Executive to his constituency as ‘showing civil servants who is the boss.’ This was pure spin by both gentlemen, designed to lead the sheep to market. In Gerry’s case, it was spinning endorsement for ‘Her Majesty’s forces of occupation’ as a victory and a continuation of hostility by migrated means rather than a defeat and a rejection of of what was a key ‘principle’ for that ilk. Since the stated aim was the termination of said force and said occupation, he was spinning reform and non-withdrawal (the overwhelming majority of members of the reformed PSNI were members of the RUC) as victory. In Martin’s case, it was spinning a return to Stormont and an agreement to administer British rule as a victory for those whose stated aim was an end to British rule.

    In regard to the present fudge, it is now the case that the Shinners must ensure that there is “community support” before the transfer can go ahead. The DUP haven’t defined what exactly constitutes community support beyond saying that they will consult widely within their own party grassroots and community. So, the Shinners had better be on their very best behaviour if they want the unionist community to “support” their pledge to their own constituency to deliver Police & Justice powers. I’d say that means that Gerry should button his lip and not make any more remarks about ‘putting manners’ on the police in addition to meaning that he should put some manners on uppity nationalists who may remain hostile to the police for reasons that Gerry and his ilk formerly promoted.

    It’s true that conditions have improved now that the murder gangs have stopped killing people, and that they could have improved 30 years ago if said murder gangs stopped killing people 30 years ago.

  • Dave

    Joe, before you go into conspiracy mode and upset the unstable (USA), perhaps you should clear the cache in your browser and try again? That Blog remains in situ.

  • Dave

    Err, perhaps I should clear mine. I imagine someone got libelled and the Blog was axed.

  • Dave

    “Who really believes that if the DUPers saw this as a clear and unambiguous victory we wouldnt be treated to the spectacle of dodds ab robbo doing the chicken dance in the chamber at storomont? ” – edward

    If that was the case, why aren’t they promoting the exclusion of a Shinner from the office of Justice Minister until 2012 as a “four year decontamination period”? That’s what it amounts to, after all.

  • Comrade Stalin

    There is no way that Robinson could have come out with a definite date – it would have been a Godsend to the TUV.

    Billy, I’m not really inclined to reply to your posts since whenever I do you just ignore me, but I think it’s wonderful that you have backed down over the May deadline in the belief that you need to do so to secure Robinson’s position.

    Something for you to ponder. Do you think that Robinson would have moved on policing and justice powers to help secure the position of Gerry or Martin ?

  • Reader

    Billy: I was talking to my friends and family (as I no longer live in the North) and they were saying that they couldn’t remember the last time that they saw a British soldier.
    But how would they know? Last time I saw my Brother in law he was in a morning suit. The time before that he was in jeans.

  • Grassy Noel

    Er, what happened to Fair Deal’s thread on this from yesterday?

  • Granni Trixie

    USA:I was thinking the same thing: a poor outlook if views on the first AT in NI have to be censored.
    I posted general comments/posed questions here on the subject which I feel sure are not libelous.
    What’s going on?

  • Granni Trixie

    USA:I was thinking the same thing: a poor outlook if views on the first AT in NI have to be censored.
    I posted general comments/posed questions here on the subject which I feel sure are not libelous.
    What’s going on?

  • edward

    If that was the case, why aren’t they promoting the exclusion of a Shinner from the office of Justice Minister until 2012 as a “four year decontamination period”? That’s what it amounts to, after all.

    Posted by Dave

    Because they also promoted the exclusion of a Duper from the office as well

  • Pete Baker

    Granni Trixie

    I hope you’re not thinking entirely the same thing? ;o)

    I’ve checked with Mick.

    He’s temporarily closed that post until he’s had time to check a small legal matter arising from one of the comments.

    Slugger Central is currently off-line but he should be back later today.

  • Lamaria

    I haven’t heard the SDLP mention d’hondt once since it was confirmed that a new Minister would be elected by cross-community Assembly vote. Perhaps they are now in pole position for the new Justice Ministry, rather than Alliance?

  • Granni Trixie

    Pete: You are right in identifying that (unlike USA) I was not directing my conspiracy theory in your direction.So apoplogies to you if my remarks looked like that.

  • josephine

    i ask again: where is sammy mcnally hiding? or is ‘billy’ just sammy in mufti?

  • ulsterfan

    Gerry’s next performance at the Ard Feis will be interesting about P&J;and the date he gave last year.
    Perhaps he needs a good spin doctor —–is Mr Powell still about?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I haven’t heard the SDLP mention d’hondt once since it was confirmed that a new Minister would be elected by cross-community Assembly vote. Perhaps they are now in pole position for the new Justice Ministry, rather than Alliance?

    Sinn Fein do not want the SDLP or the DUP to have the ministry, and the DUP do not want the UUP or Sinn Fein to have the ministry. Hence Alliance are in the frame, and as far as I know this hasn’t changed.

    The SDLP’s bluster about d’Hondt was just that. There is no legislation right now that determines exactly how the minister is appointed. If it were to be a d’Hondt appointment, the SDLP would not automatically be in the driving seat – the d’Hondt process would be re-run from the top and either Sinn Fein or the DUP would take it. This seems academic, since the latest proposals say it will be a cross-community vote which essentially means that SF and the DUP control the outcome jointly.

  • runciter

    The SDLP’s bluster about d’Hondt was just that. There is no legislation right now that determines exactly how the minister is appointed. If it were to be a d’Hondt appointment, the SDLP would not automatically be in the driving seat – the d’Hondt process would be re-run from the top and either Sinn Fein or the DUP would take it.

    Hardly bluster, since the decision to not use D’Hondt means that Nationalists are effectively being denied an additional ministry. SF’s performance in this matter has been little short of treacherous. Hypocritical too, if one takes into account their recent attempts to paint Durkan as being anti-power sharing.

  • Lamaria

    Comrade Stalin, I’ve noticed a subtle change in Sinn Féin’s attitude to the SDLP getting the ministerial position since the announcement. Take McGuinness for example when asked if Sinn Féin would now support a minister drawn from the ranks of the SDLP he stated: “I very much have an open mind about that.”

    I’m confident to put my neck on the line and say that the SDLP will get the job.

  • Ian

    “I’m confident to put my neck on the line and say that the SDLP will get the job.”

    If that’s to be the case, the timing of the European elections may impact on the timing of devolution. The SDLP’s preferred Justice Minister may well be Alban Maguinness, but he’s also their candidate for Europe. Am I right in thinking that he can’t be a Minister in the Executive and an MEP at the same time?

    But if the Justice post is assigned next spring, he wouldn’t want to turn it down and then maybe not end up elected in Europe either?