P&J devolution: a DUP lose lose?

Pete has mentioned the proposed budget for the devolution of policing and justice below. Previously the DUP stated that the devolution would depend on adequate community confidence. The nature of the community consultation process the DUP are proposing to undertake is unclear. Robinson’s statement says:

“The DUP manifesto condition requires the existence of community confidence. Our condition is not based on DUP confidence alone it is set more widely than that. This means that the other parties in the Assembly must also be content before we move forward.”

As I have noted previously Robinson seems to be pointedly ignoring the position of the TUV (it being a party with no assembly representation). This has not, however, stopped Jim Allister from denouncing the whole project. He has pointed out that the current deal will only last until 2012 when a new agreement with Sinn Fein would have to be negotiated. He has also questioned the amount of money likely to come from the treasury.

Allister’s objections are of course predictable. The position of the UUP is, however, also extremely lukewarm. As such the DUP may have considerable difficulties in gaining the adequate “confidence:” unless of course such a failure to gain adequate confidence is Robinson’s intention? Whilst that would be at one level cunning and might demonstrate that the DUP were listening to the unionist electorate it would also look as though the DUP were losing community confidence and would probably significantly weaken their position. There is also a danger that if this issue is a live one in the autumn it may have an influence on the very likely Ballymoney by-election and indeed the outcome of that by-election could influence the DUP’s enthusiasm for P&J devolution.

Whatever happens, it looks likely that P&J devolution is going to cause further problems for the DUP and provide further ammunition to their opponents within unionism. Currently it looks worryingly like a lose, lose option. Devolving P&J will antagonise the sort of unionist supporters which the DUP lost to the TUV last time and will make attracting them back even more difficult. Failure to devolve may look like Robinson losing control of events and could strengthen his opponents within unionism at the same time as antagonising Sinn Fein.

  • Turgon, it’s a poisoned chalice no matter which way you look at it. With or without devolution the ‘powers that be’ will defer to the local paramilitary godfathers or will find it impossible to constrain them.

  • dodrade

    Personally I think a lot of hogwash has been talked about this issue. Most unionists have no qualms about devolving P&J as long as Sinn Fein don’t get the job, which they wont. The DUP may have had a mauling in the Euro elections but as Robbo said the issue never came up on the doors, so the idea that it’s some sort of rubicon which a section of pro stormont unionist voters don’t wish to cross has no substance to it.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Turgon, I’ve a lot of respect for most of what you say (not least because I share your basic analysis of not merely how wrong making an agreement with terrorists was, but how unnecessary – that was *the* criminal weakness of Trimble for me, but that’s by the by), but you are in danger of becoming a latter-day Paisley. Which is to say, you’re ever more frequently engaging in chicken-lickenism. In the faux Doc’s case, it was largely, as we can now see clearly, born out of a naked desire to deceive, generally for electoral purposes, by as often as out, as far as I can make out, just because he liked lying. In your case, I fear this tendency is simply the result of understandable wishful thnking: ‘all is gloom, gloom!’ makes sense, after a fashion, as a TUVite rallying cry, but only when it’s true. And it’s patently not on the money in this instance. For the Punt has had a marvelous run of success with P&J, and as long as he continues to frame the narrative viz his actual opponents, Republicans (remember?), not Jim Allister, it will go on being a winner for him. Bear in mind, this is an issue where Sinn Fein staked out their lines in the sand unambiguously: it had to happen, or else – which, of course, has now, and precisely due to the way P&J has been handled as a political weapon, been shown up as total bluff; and, Sinn Fein’s other, non-negotiable demand was that there could be no possibility of either a formal or even an informal Unionist veto on a Republican holding the post. There is, it’s as formal as all get out, and the Punt is exercising it. Sometimes, just sometimes, you should add light and shade to your critique by allowing that, within the confines of a gravely flawed system, Robinson is playing his hand very well, in this regard at least.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The UU position will be interesting – if they say NO and block the transfer they will be effectively an anti-agreement party with the support of an incoming Tory government leading probably to the collapse of the assembly. This will be republican dissidents real window of opportunity with a resonance to events at the beginning of the 19th century that may well push us back to pre peace process days.

    Surely PoshBoyDC is not that crazy?

  • seceder

    UU position if they say no they will be effectively an anti-agreement party.

    Which agreement are we telking, the Belfast Agreement, the St Andrews Agreement or the DUP/Sinn Fein Agreement on p&j.

    Personally I would oppose it on the basis of the transfer being exclusively based on the later ie a DUP/SF Agreement that the UU and SDLP had no part of – so they should not support it.

    Thereby letting the big boys carry the can. Every DUP MLA would have to stand and be counted – counted in and counted out!

  • Daphné Trmblz

    [i]that was *the* criminal weakness of Trimble for me, but that’s by the by[/i]

    Uck don’t be so hard on yourself love. Sure you’ll soon be Northern Ireland Secretary and everything will be ok 🙂

  • danielmoran

    itwas sammymcnally…
    r u sure it wasn’t ray macanally?
    i think poshboyDC might just be completely out of his depth in this arena. i can just picture him trying to explain to fellow tories the state of norn iron politics now.
    surely the biggest cure for insommnia in tory party.

  • fin

    I don’t think Robbo’s engagement with the UUP is going to be a debate, its, if the unionist ‘confidence’ is there or not. DUP have either played a blinder or painted themselves into a corner. Not much wiggle room left for unionism, 2012 looms and SF can take the post then. Infamy, infamy……..

  • Scaramoosh

    In the absence of any progressive policies, the various starnds of unionism fight it out amongst themselves to champion the politics of negativism; defeatism and lost causes.

    Sadly, one is left with the impression that come the inevitable United Ireland, they will be found either huddled up together in a bunker, or aboard a large ark (built in H&W) set sail for Portpatrick from Bangor marina.

    Is there not one single unionist out there who can come up with some sort of radical philosophical break with the past?

  • The (simple) Raven

    “Is there not one single unionist out there who can come up with some sort of radical philosophical break with the past?”

    Probably not, but watch this:

    “I’m a unionist who doesn’t care if Sinn Fein end up running P&J. I don’t care if it’s devolved or not. I won’t make my vote an anti-DUP vote should it be devolved, or indeed, handed to the Shinners to run. I just want the police to turn up, turn up on time, catch the crooks, and know that they will be punished beyond some fatuous community service or restorative justice scheme, and that whatever system we have, a crime is a crime is a crime. And incredibly, I probably know lots of people who think the same.”

    How’s that?

    Incredible, regardless of community background, that the notion of progressing P&J, that actually getting something accomplished, is described as a “lose-lose situation”. What a fucking toilet this place is.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Sammy, you’ve got to stop telling these lies: the Assembly *won’t* collapse, if Sinn Fein refuse to lap up the terms the Punt sets out for them re P&J. We’ve proved this. We proved it last year, remember? Last year, when you said P&J would be transferred, otherwise Sinn Fein would pull the institutions down. And it wasn’t, and they didn’t, precisely because they can’t. But the reason you’ve got to stop telling these lies is not because they’re dishonest, but because they’re so painfully stupid. So once more Sammy: either, stop lying, or start telling better ones.

  • Boss Hogg

    I think we should get on with P&J did Unionism not bring down Stormont in 1972 because it was taken away; now it’s coming back we don’t want it? My limited understanding means the DUP have vetoed a Sinn Fein Minister, after five years it goes back to the NI Assembly were it requires cross community support hence still no Sinn Fein Minister it is also not included as part of the carve up of ministerial positions after any future NI Assembly election so Sinn Fein can never get it. The DUP are right to hold out for proper funding makes total sense, as for the UUP they would have had P&J before now without the safe guards, this was agreed by the UUP and is on the record!

  • frustrated democrat

    While supporting the GFA I can see no way that P&J can be devolved at present.

    There are three key issues surrounding the devolution of policing and justice.

    1. Funding

    2. Confidence

    3. Competence

    Each needs to be treated on its own merits but not with equal importance

    1. Funding – The real cost of funding P&J is very uncertain as no one knows what the future requirements are in terms of claims for injury to the police etc., events and many other isues. So any agreement on funding that is not all embracing and open ended will be a potential hole in the financing of Northern Ireland for future generations.

    2. Confidence – I think it is very unlikely that the pro Union community support this and Robinson will find out that they don’t, the hard way, if he proceeds.

    3. Competence – everyone is very aware that the executive does not function properly and the ‘NI Government’ is failing in its duties to enact any meaningful legislation. This coupled to the necessity to ‘gerrymander’ the system to allow the Alliance to hold the Minister’s job is evidence that SF and the DUP cannot work constructuively together and have had to rewrite D’hont to keep it away from the SDLP. The fragile relationship that they have will be further fractured over issues like the appointment of Judges (they can’t appoint 4 to every position)and may in the end spell the end of the Assembly if all it goes wrong.

    So I think on all 3 counts it should not happen and until those 3 counts are fulfilled there should be no move forward as it will jeopardise the very future of the Assembly that I wholeheartedly support.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    if the UU/Tory crypto party adopt the totally irresponsible anti-agreement position you are suggesting then they will have reneged on the GFA/STA. Given the fact that the Tories were irresponsible enough to support the Iraq war then anything is possible but they will then probably have to get Engleze troops back on the streets of Norn Iron just when they are having their arses kicked in Afghansitan.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Still just going to keep on lying as and when the fancy takes you Sammy? Fine, but for pity’s sake, start adding some new lies to the ould staples. You’ve bored us to tears with those. Please, in the name of the Agreement, tell us some new lies! It won’t make you any less laughable, but at least you’ll be providing us with new, fresh, doubtless equally zany laughs.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    FD – the system that doesn’t work is the system David Trimble put in place. Did you cheer him on in that work, which was of course electorally suicidal, on top of all its other, ever more visible defects? P&J would have already have been transferred without conditions, let alone with Sinn Fein vetoed, had we stuck to the UUP’s original position. And as for funding – if your unionism amounts to saying to HM Treasury, ‘gizzus more dosh’, it really is no wonder that Reg nevers take any internal flak for lumbering the Executive with its second worse minister (no one will ever be worse than the Cat) in the shape of the Gimp.

  • frustrated democrat


    I am trying to have somethig that allows the GFA to succeed not destroy it, which I believe the devolution of P&J will. So far from being anti agreement is 100% pro agreement.


    What Trimble did or didn’t do 12 years ago is of no interest to me. As to funding I don’t want more I want to leave it as it is.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    weasel words or what?

    So everyone gets to pick the bits they dont like and gets to leave that bit out. So SF should be able to help the ‘GFA to succeed’ by unaccepting the Police and the DUP should able to help the ‘GFA to succeed’ by not attending North South ministerial meetings?

    Get a grip on your Union Jack knickers – and lets all hope PoshBoyDC has a grip on his or we are right back where we fecking started.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    You’re certainly back to where you started Sammy, telling the same lies you did last year. For Gawd’s sake: get some new ones.

    FD – I can certainly see whyy pro-Agreement numpties like you ‘don’t care’ quite why, or how, your beloved Agreement is so useless. But here’s the thing: it’s precisely the thing you claim not to care about, Trimble’s actions, which are now causing the problems today you *do* claim to care about. A funny old world.

  • frustrated democrat


    Do you have positive opinions about anything?

    If you have let us hear your proposals.


    Yeah and I prefer voluntary coaltion as well that doesn’t mean I am anti agreement just pro a better one. Why do you want P&J devolved, what will it achieve in reality? Diiferent laws, better judges, a different PSNI, no none of the above – so what exactly?

    Or is it just more window dressing or something on your tick list to prove you achived at lesat one thing?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Devolving policing and justice powers is necessary to get some proper local input into decision making within policing, which we presently do not have. Anybody who does not believe we have a problem here needs to watch Gonzo’s video, posted earlier. The police need up their game. Only local politicians can do that.

    Unionists talking about collapsing the institutions are proposing to cut off their nose to spite their faces. Sammy here does talk a load of bollocks about joint authority, but what certainly is true is that the British want devolution to stick, they don’t want to be a colonial administrator anymore, and if we throw that back in their faces they’ll make us pay. There are plenty of ways they can do that without doing anything to change the constitutional situation.

    The choices are between governing with a peaceful, disarmed and humiliated Sinn Fein, or condemning the country to long term decline by submitting it to budget cuts and lacklustre direct rule.

  • This issue is a load of hot air. It was in the Agreement, all Executive parties are pretty much signed up to it and any political fall-out from it was created by the DUP in the first place. Let’s just get it sorted out.

  • Billy

    Comrade Stalin

    “they don’t want to be a colonial administrator anymore, and if we throw that back in their faces they’ll make us pay. There are plenty of ways they can do that without doing anything to change the constitutional situation”

    Spot on. When Posh Boy gets elected, he will be forced into making very difficult budgetary decisions. Despite his “alliance” with the UUP, there is great scope for public sector savings in NI and there is no way that he will slash away on public services in GB and not in NI. Even the modern Tory party doesn’t have the old back bench colonials any more – neither the UK Parliament nor the people will tolerate NI being given masses of public money at the expense of GB any more – GB simply doesn’t have the money!.

    If Unionists want to make things difficult or even collapse the institutions, this will simply erode the little sympathy for Ulster Unionism that exists in GB and make it easier for Posh Boy to make cuts.

    “The choices are between governing with a peaceful, disarmed and humiliated Sinn Fein, or condemning the country to long term decline by submitting it to budget cuts and lacklustre direct rule”

    Sinn Fein certainly were out manoeuvered at St Andrews by the DUP and have made some mistakes since. However, they have at least kept their end of the bargain and have certainly made more of an attempt to keep the assembly running than the DUP have by appointing the likes of Campbell, Wilson and McCausland.

    They also are fronting up to dissident republicanism and look determined to stay the course. From the DUP reshuffle, it seems to me that they are backing down in the face of the TUV threat.

    Although I’m not a Sinn Fein supporter, I think they’ve held back on a lot of potential veto issues despite provocation from the DUP. If the DUP want to lurch to the right that’s up to them. However, I think you’ll find that a lot of moderate Catholics like me won’t stand for being whipping boys and will urge Sinn Fein to fight back – then the whole thing will come crashing down.

    Your comment makes it sound as if Sinn Fein have no choice but to sit there and take what scraps Unionists give them. Those days are long gone – in fact, it’s conceivable that Sinn Fein will be the largest party after the next Assembly election

    While I think a change of leadership in Sinn Fein is required, to their credit, they are doing the hard yards. They have prepared their supporters for change in the past (Stormont, PSNI etc) and they are constantly doing so as the situation changes. The DUP made no such (wise) prepartions for decades which is why they are in the mess that they are now.

    In truth, Sinn Fein are indeed an unarmed peaceful party and that is to be welcomed. However, if they are “humiliated”, where does that leave the UUP, SDLP, Alliance or even the DUP in the light of the TUV threat? Are you saying that Sinn Fein (topping the poll by a country mile) were “humiliated” at the Euro poll while the DUP (scraping in 3rd with an abysmal candidate) weren’t? Strange reasoning, I must say.

    The truth is that, in the current Economic climate, a United Ireland isn’t a viable objective. Sinn Fein would be better negotiating in the short run for those they represent.

    However, this is pragmatism not humiliation. They are already in a position to veto anything ridiculous that the DUP put through and it’s likely that the next election will simply strengthen their assembly position.

    I do have to admire your realism on Direct Rule however. You are one of the few Unionists who recognises and admits that the responsibility for NI is not wanted by the UK govt, that it is a financial burden and that it has never been and will never be “as British as Fichley”.

    The current financial situation means that even fewer (from a very low base) people in GB give a shit about NI. Cutting public services in NI will cost Posh Boy nothing in terms of GB electoral support – no-one in GB will care!

    Those Unionists who still think that they can call the tune at 10 Downing Street are in for a big reality check!

  • BonarLaw

    “2012 looms and SF can take the post then”

    And how exactly would that happen? There is no statutory basis for how the P&J post is filled past 2012.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Republicans like Billy can keep comforting themselves with the fantasy that a.) ‘the British’ are solely in Great Britain, and aren’t already here, in Northern ireland (and while we’re laughing at Republican fantasyland, we’ll note, pace that *other* fantasy, that the British here aren’t about to be outbred any time soon either) & b.) that ‘the British’ in Great Britain want rid of NI. If ‘they’ wnated that, ‘they’d’ do it, and not one thing anyone here wnated, one way or the other would stop ‘them’. That ‘they’ haven’t obviously tells Republican fantasists nothing, but as I’ve said before, better by far I suppose that Republicans delude themselves rather than murder the rest of us.

    Pace FD – wise up. All you slabber on here is, ‘theDUPhavescrewedeverythingup, they’reuseless, sotheyare’. It’s precisely *your* negativism – ‘I can see no way that P&J can be devolved at present’ – that I was respoding to. With, NB, a positive and contructive suggestion: namely that P&J can and will be devolved, exactly according to the schedule the Punt has enforced on Sinn Fein. It’s only your relentless negative, and incidentally fretful negativism that blinds you to the success of this approach. Blind, partisan tribalism is *very* boring: you should try putting those Trimblist blinkers to one side every now and then.

    And Bonar Law – spot on. Whatever else Robinson has got wrong (principally, internal party management, and, an overwrought response to Allister), he’s played a bliner on P&J. Indeed, on steering the Exec full stop, the contrast between the Punt’s performance and the diaster that was Trimble is permanently shaming for the UUP. Would that I could believe that Reg would be anyy better.

  • Billy


    “There is no statutory basis for how the P&J post is filled past 2012”

    That’s perfectly true. At the moment, even if P&J were devolved tomorrow, part of the deal is that it can’t go to a Sinn Fein minister. As a constitutional Nationalist, I have no problem with that. It’s amazing how many Unionists also choose to omit the fact that it can’t currently go to a DUP Minister either – hence the speculation about David Ford.

    Who knows how the assembly will be constituted in 2012. As you say, there’s no mechanism to ensure that it goes to any particular party. However, I suspect that the point that fin was making (apologies if I’m wrong), is that there will no longer be any mechanism excluding Sinn Fein either.

  • Billy


    Is that the best you can come up with? – How pathetic. I simply deal in FACTS – NI is part of the UK not Great Britain – that’s a FACT whether you like it or not.

    I have accepted the fact that a United Ireland is not viable in the foreseeable future – no problem with that.

    Who knows what the future will bring? I certainly don’t – if you do, can you let me know what next weeks lottery numbers are?

    If you have any evidence at all to show that the majority (or even a sizeable number) of GB people give a shit about NI, then please produce it.

    Any evidence that I have seen is that the overwhelming majority of GB people don’t give a shit about NI and wouldn’t care if the British pulled out tomorrow.

    The simple fact is that successive UK govts have gradually been involving the RoI more and more in the running of NI and will continue to do so.

    There is no doubt that the “Union” with GB will remain as long as the majority of NI people wish it. That’s a fact and I accept it – no delusions.

    On the contrary you are clearly one of those Unionists who deludes themselves that GB people really care about NI and regard it as being as “British as Finchley”. The truth is that it never was and never will be – the vast majority of GB people simply don’t give a shit about NI.

    With the current economic recession, unemployment, Iraq, Afghanistan, Islamic terrorism, Immigration etc – I think you’ll find that the future of NI just isn’t on the radar of your average Brit.

    As I said, if you have any evidence to the contrary, let’s see it.

  • frustrated democrat


    Do I take it you are a now a DUP supporter and think they are doing a good job?

    If that is the case you are sadly deluded, from his enormous appetite to luxury pads to a failure to have anything like a government to losing almost half his voters – he has failed miserably. To devolve P&J into this shambles would be a complete disaster.

    What is your hang up about Trimble he is past history, unfortunately Robinson is very current and even worse than Trimble was.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    FD, I’m not only an Ulster Unionist member, I’m willing to bet I’ve been one rather longer than you. That you think Robinson has performed worse in office than the Turtle is something I’d be surprised to hear even from the man’s wife. Presumably you’d like to contrast Trimble’s triumphs as First Minister with Robinson’s disasters? Well go on then . . . but as and when you get back to me, remember, the voters have also passed a verdict on their respective records. Remind me, can you count?

    As for poor old Billy: your FACT is that you SHOUT! You believe that the British in Northern Ireland are different to the British in North London (and, presumably, north Wales, nothern Scotland etc etc). You’re welcome to that belief, but no matter how loudly you SHOUT about such FACTS [sic], it doesn’t make ’em any more true. Poor, poor, risible Republicans, but then I suppose it’s hardly any wonder you of all people struggle quite so much to come to grips with what a multi-national, multi-ethnic state means. Your pitiful, racist ideology is, thank God, now ‘led’ by men bought and paid for by Thames House. Ho, ho, ho.

  • Laughing @ L(T)U

    You must be an absolute hoot at dinner parties. God help your poor wife, if you were in fact able to find a wife able to put up with your insecurities and petty sardonic insults.

  • frustrated democrat


    I am not an Ulster Unionist member…