Interestingly, the latest Sinn Féin interjection on the prospect of the devolution of policing and justice powers comes from a non-public representative, the party’s national chairman Declan Kearney. According to the iol report
Mr Kearney said: “The DUP and NIO (Northern Ireland Office) have played fast and loose with these negotiations. “Their introduction of the parades precondition may not necessarily mean they are opposed to the transfer of power – although it might. “But it demonstrates they are considering the reckless scenario of pushing transfer of powers beyond next year’s Westminster election. “And the DUP may still plan to raise new and more preconditions.”
He added: “It is likely, for different reasons, that the DUP, NIO, Woodward, and Brown are basing short-term, tactical expediency upon three mistaken assumptions:
“One: That Sinn Féin will be weakened the longer they can play out delivery of transfer of policing and justice powers.
“Two: That Sinn Féin has invested so much in the achievement of transfer, we will simply roll over.
“Three: That Sinn Féin is so committed to the political institutions we no longer possess, or will want to use any effective political leverage in this situation.”
Remember the “indigenous” deal, Declan? “Let no-one interfere with that”? And why Sinn Féin have been so exercised about this particular issue? But what are you going to do? Sulk? Again? Adds From the BBC report
However Sinn Fein junior minister Gerry Kelly said that did not amount to a threat to collapse the Executive. “We are not suggesting that at all,” he said.
It seems appropriate to re-quote the DUP’s Iris Robinson.
While it would seem foolish for republicans to accept the outlandish boasts and rhetoric of the Sinn Fein leadership when playing to their base and not see through them, it would be even more foolish for unionists to fall into the trap of believing them.
Here’s that “indigenous” deal again from 2006.
As Ive said before, the Secretary of State may set a target date, and may hope to achieve that date, but the current mechanism for devolving powers on policing and justice already set out, in the NI (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, grants both holders of the offices of First and Deputy First Ministers a veto on whether that goes ahead.
Unless the government is now going to say that, in circumstances where one of the parties holding those offices do not agree that the confidence within the community exists for the devolving of those powers by March 2008 – they are then going to force through devolving powers on policing and justice by May 2008 whatever happens between now and then, the target date remains only a target date and not a commitment.