The (er, another) Hillsborough Agreement…

The Hillsborough Agreement (safely published well after Groundhog Day) has been uploaded here on the Bel Tel site

  • Ulick

    Mick I believe you told us you know who won when you’d seen the detail. What’s the verdict then?

  • BillyMena

    There’s so much ambiguity in this Agreement (which is to be expected, based on past performance), I wonder how it took them two weeks to come up with it and how long it will be before we have another two weeks intense negotiation and Hillsborough Agreement II.

  • Keithbelfast

    I found this part quite interesting, filed under “brits out”:

    “HM Government will gift the four agreed former military bases to the Northern Ireland Executive.

    It would be anticipated that a portion of the land in Omagh will be used for an educational campus but it would be expected that disposal proceeds from the other sites would be used, on a basis agreed with HM Treasury, to meet exceptional resource pressures (including potentially equal pay claims).

    HM Treasury will work with the Northern Ireland Executive to help ensure that any timing issues, related to delays in securing these disposal proceeds as a consequence of market conditions, can be addressed on an agreed basis.”

  • They could’ve come up with this in half a day. The important stuff is clearly underhand, behind the scenes deals yet again. I particularly like the working group on executive function. Well that’s alright then …

  • Mark McGregor

    I’m sc0ring it:

    Sinn Féin 1-1 0-2 DUP

    Can’t believe the lashings of fudge.

  • Mark McGregor

    Keith,

    All that is from October.

  • Keithbelfast

    yea, i know. still worth highlighting. only interesting thing in it. and worth revisiting.

  • Mark McGregor

    Keith,

    I notice the DUP is now committed to implementation ‘following community consultation’ not subject to ‘community confidence’.

    The biggest shift in the document IMO.

  • Parading – Timetable

    Assumes maximum priority in Assembly at all stages.

    Great.

  • iluvni

    Thats quite a detailed timetable on the parades …why didnt the DUP hold out and say P&J will be devolved on the same day as the bill receives Royal Assent?

    Surely Sir Reg wont sign up to this avalanche of fudge.

  • The Impartial Observer

    It’s a clear win for SF. They wanted a date for P&J they’ve got it. I can’t see any similar tangible success for the DUP. Parading will be reviewed but there’s no guaruntee that something will come of that and The Parades Commission remains until they can all agree on what to replace it.

  • Mark McGregor

    Sure Reg and Margaret get to co-chair a working group on improving Executive functions.

    How can they possible complain! They even get to make recommendations.

  • Bob Wilson

    Like O’Neill I noticed the bit about the Parading Bill taking priority – not transfer procedure or Education and Skills Authority but parading!
    Says it all really

  • Driftwood

    There should have been an addendum

    ‘At night, remember to put the cat out’.

    Then the ‘agreement’ would have had ‘product’ for the DUP.
    The attempts to sell this load of old cobblers will be laughable. Oh well, at least it’s not raining.

  • Jaggers

    Mark, how did you arrive at your score?

    It seems to me on the Parading issue that SF are being led by the nose and have had to agree to a specific and curtailed timeframe with work starting Monday next for the introduction of new and “improved” procedures and that this business will be accorded “maximum priority in the Assembly at all stages” (what? more important than finance, rates, education, health?). It’s not clear to me whether this year’s marching season will be subject to the new “improved” procedures and what role the Parades Commission will have in the future, if any.

    And if SF have won, where is the Irish Language?

  • Mark McGregor

    Jaggers,

    Gave SF a goal for finally getting an agreed date for devolution of P&J. Gave them a point for the weak as water getting the ILA back on the table as part of a working group review.

    Gave the DUP 2 points for getting a drawn out commitment to abolish the Parades Commission but no guaranttees on its replacement.

  • from reading it…………..judiciary and chief constable operationally independent from government…..single justice minister elected by cross-community vote, consideration for a womens prison, review of how victims of crime are kept in the loop re prosecutions & sentencing etc, full executive member for the justice minister, four former military bases gifted to the assembly,

    new parades framework based on local solutions to be completed within 3 weeks recognising competing rights and openess and transparency, mediation and adjudication, the right to freedom from harassment and a legaly enforceablel code of conduct,

    a section on improving executive functions..working groups to be set up.

    no mention of muted side deals to do with irish language, presbyterian mutual etc

  • Framer

    DUP and UUP wanted devolution of policing and justice.

    Why I don’t know, but they have got what they want so one can call it a defeat for them.

  • What will be the Republican dissident response? Will Catholic PSNI officers be more or less safe following this P&J deal?

  • Eamonn Mallie hits it on the head…the parades commission replacement is to be finalised 23rd february BEFORE the cross community vote on the Justice minister..DUP..Sf…..short curlies……..”Three key dates interlinked. Feb 23–Body on parades reports. Assembly vote on PJ transfer March 9.Transfer april 12. If Feb 23 fails ?”

  • Mark McGregor

    I should add the dirty buggers managed to time things to ensure the SDLP leadership race gets as close to zero column inches as possible. I’ll give the shinners another point for that.

  • Jaggers

    Mark, fair enough and I suppose if the talks failed the consequences would have had the effect of delaying the devolution for some time, perhaps years. Just caught the tailend of an interview on BBC News where it was stated the new procedures for dealing with parades would only kick in in September this year – can’t see myself what this new bottom-up approach is going to achieve, Brendan McCionnaith might get his face-to-face meeting with the Portadown LOL which will be a coup for him, especially so if he personally gets to tell them to f*ck off and if there is failure to agree, then it effectively goes back up the tree to be adjudicated by either the PC or something similar to it, is that really what all the bother was about?

  • Jaggers the Portadown Orangemen have been calling for face to face talks for the past couple of years it is Brendan McCionnaith that now refuses to meet. From what i have read it is local solutions by local people and if no solution it goes to adjudication comprised of lay people and others along with passages talking about freedom from harassment, a legally enforceable code of conduct…..think it favours dialog rather than protest and road blocks….

  • mayday

    Folks

    Lets not get acarried away. Fudge takes a lot of time to prepare! The DUP had to spend X amount of days in the kitchen to prove they are hard workers.

    This agreement will be like St Andrews – the out working of the legislation will bear no reflection on the platitudes in the agreement. The endless nights of discussion will be reflected in the side deals and the pre negotiated details of the Bill on parading. If you read all the parts of the document you will note that the text is written in different tenses. “The working group HAS been tasked….” This would lead one to believe that the members have already been identified and have been working away in the background and their outcomes are already known. I hope some of the inspired investigative journalists who use this blog will challenge the appointed members about when they became involved etc…

    On another point any MLA can nominate the justice Minister but next Monday the First Minister and his Deputy will consider applications of interest from the party leaders and they will then identify which candidate they believe …. So much for the chance of any MLA nominating the best qualified or experienced person do the job. The justice Minister will be vetted along sectarian lines rather than legal/policing or prison experience – although if experience of prison was a requirement there would be a lot of very experienced candidates.

    Finally the only part which I feel the TUV will agree with is that Royal Assent is still required – at least the DUP can sell that fact to their community.

  • Mark McGregor

    Kilsally,

    They also drop local elected representatives into the dialogue process.

  • “Brendan McCionnaith”

    Republican dissident?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Seems on all the DUP points (that they hadn’t already given up on – police reserve etc.) this is a document which puts them down to further discussion – what have they been discussing/negotiating for months exactly?

    So SF get what they wanted, DUP get further talks on what they wanted, you can make up your own mind on the negotiating skills of the two sides and what pressures were applied.

  • ardmaj55

    Billymena [2] They’ll definitely be back to standoff after next year’s assembly elections because during the next term, SF will be entitled to the Justice Minister’s seat. I don’t think it’ll be DUP who’ll be in position to deny SF that, by then.

  • ardmaj55

    Framer [18] Not sure that phrasing now looks the way you intended. It seems all that’s happened on parading is a new process has been inserted in ahead of the Parades Commision action triggered. How can PR sell this to Dodds, never mind anyone else?,

  • ardmaj55

    Framer [18] Not sure that phrasing now looks the way you intended. It seems all that’s happened on parading is a new process has been inserted in ahead of the Parades Commision action triggered. How can PR sell this to Dodds, never mind anyone else?,

  • Ulick

    Kilsally,

    “Eamonn Mallie hits it on the head…the parades commission replacement is to be finalised 23rd february BEFORE the cross community vote on the Justice minister..DUP..Sf…..short curlies……..“Three key dates interlinked. Feb 23—Body on parades reports. Assembly vote on PJ transfer March 9.Transfer april 12. If Feb 23 fails ?”

    As I understand it the DUP wanted the new parades legislation passed through Westminster. They didn’t get it. The parades legislation will go through Stormont and that won’t be before the vote on P&J. The outline of the new parades body has already been negotiated and it bears a remarkably similar resemblance to the existing one except that it’s membership will be appointed by OFMDFM, not the NIO – so least there should be no more need for judicial appeals as happened when they tried to appoint Orangemen to it.

  • frustrated democrat – p&j is in the DUP manifesto so portraying it as a SF gain and DUP loss isnt really correct – what we have is a dte for devolution of p&j and for that a parading solution comes after the publishing of this deal but crucially BEFORE p&j is devolved, although the solution will not be implemented until september….plus any other side deals…to me nobody is losing anything..it is a move towards a collective society. NI`s problems will only ever be solved by local NI people, not Dublin or London.

  • Jaggers

    Just as the dust slowly clears and settles, what do we think of Reg Empey’s going off in a perceived huff. On a day that will probably be seen internationally and domestically as a positive moment akin to a mini-Good Friday or mini-St Andrew’s, the Tory partners will be perceived as curmudgeonly and irrelevant and whatever the opposite of statesmanlike is. What a beautiful day for the Torys and their strategic vision.
    Gordon Brown and the Labour Party have refrained from throwing a single punch at the Torys during this latest crisis – mind you we haven’t seen serious electioneering just yet.

  • abc123

    Bottom line is that SF caused a false crisis and as a result have got a date for P&J. We already know that the Executive can’t cope with issues like Education (and can’t sack the incompetent SF minister). So the Justice Minister is supposed to be more independent ..

    But how long will it be before SF are eligible to take up the Justice role? (they have of course been carrying out their own version of justice for many years through beatings and shootings).

    And will Conor Murphy now start to fully support the rule of law following given his previous comments?

  • Mark McGregor

    ardmaj55,

    The Northern Ireland Act 2009 makes it clear the Justice Minister won’t be selected by d’hondt in 2012 unless that mechanism is approved by cross-community vote.

  • ardmaj55

    Ulick, this is a long way from the dealing with parades. Surely the whole point of the OO/DUP case since the drumcree debacle, has been there should NOT be anything to deal about, and they should be able to march as and when/where they want. The PC put that principle to sleep, and now the DUP has endorsed the relatives case that there must be consultation with locals, Nice to see the DUP’s acceptance of locals rights to be consulted.

  • Ulick

    Kilsally,

    “a parading solution comes after the publishing of this deal but crucially BEFORE p&j is devolved”

    Not so. The working group may report before then, but the ‘solution’ as you call it will not be know or made public before P&J is devolved.

  • ulick, the legislation won`t go through but the proposed solution will be agreed upon before p&j is devolved….i think the difference is the focus on local solutions and the passages about respect meaning not attending face to face talks etc will be held against people, threats of violent protests will not be good either. It means paraders and residents will have to talk and dialog with each other to reach accomodation rather than standoffs ..surely a good thing…code of conduct is presumably for marchers and i have called for that before as things can often go wrong all because of a few idiots despite the good work of many decent people from both sides behind the scenes.

  • ardmaj55

    Sorry, that ‘relatives’ should have read ‘residents’

  • Ulick

    ardmaj55, I agree but the point is that the parades body will come under the authority of the Assembly and the cross-community vote. Neither SF or the SDLP have the moral authority to allow parades in an area they are not wanted and I’d expect this to be reflected in the eventual solution. It’ll be for the residents to decide.

  • abc123

    From the TUV website:
    The Minister will be a full Executive member subject to the toxic Sinn Fein veto on all Justice legislation, all spending decisions, and all cross-cutting issues. The DUP previously pledged to keep the Justice minister’s action beyond the meddling reach of IRA/Sinn Fein, but again, Sinn Fein has won this argument. Let it also be remember, this is only an interim deal till 2012 when Sinn Fein, which plays a long game, will position itself to get policing and justice within its own direct grasp.

  • ardmaj55

    Ulick [15] It’s just as well that SF and SDLP won’t have the moral authority to vote for these marches, and it looks to me like, as said on TB just now,the SF have their wishlist on P&J ticked whereas the DUP have only got a process toward dealing with their wish list ticked. it’s hardly the fall of the roman empire. The DUP blinked first.

  • Bob Wilson

    The more one reads it the more it becomes apparent there is no real agreement at all.
    This merely a Sequencing Arrangement for potential agreements

  • Dec

    Jaggers the Portadown Orangemen have been calling for face to face talks for the past couple of years it is Brendan McCionnaith that now refuses to meet.

    If you go back to when the parade was forced through, it was the Orangemen who refused to talk to Brendan McCionnaith and the local residents. Strange how non-negotiation becomes an issue for the OO when the boot is on the other foot.

  • abc123…so what are the Shinners going to veto? What radicaly legislation do you foresee them opposing? The Chief constable and the Judiciary are operationally independent.

    It`s a bogus argument. Sinn Fein`s veto hasnt got them any pro-republican legislation that I can see, it means things stay as they are….

  • tacapall

    This deal and the wording of it disguises its true meaning. The DUP and Unionism in general are being spoon fed doses of reality. The SAA that everyone signed up to, except it seems Unionism, is being enforced by the two governments who are in turn being pushed along by the guarantors – The American Government. The key wording being, examining the St Andrews Agreement and identifying all matters contained within it which have not been “faithfully implemented or actioned” In other words Irish Language Act, North South bodies and whatever else is on the equality agenda. Tough times ahead for the never never tribes of Unionism.

  • IanR

    “The outline of the new parades body has already been negotiated and it bears a remarkably similar resemblance to the existing one except that it’s membership will be appointed by OFMDFM, not the NIO – so least there should be no more need for judicial appeals as happened when they tried to appoint Orangemen to it.”

    If that’s the case then the DUP have accepted the ongoing need for some sort of quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation to make determinations on contentious parades.

    However, they have convinced SF that to insist that the power to appoint to such a body remains with the Westminster-based government, is totally inconsistent with SF’s desire/demand/desperation to ensure that executive powers over policing and justice must be devolved to and reside with the NI body politic.

    That’s a draw on the parades issue to my mind.

  • abc123

    To Kilsally – it’s not possible to predict what legislation will be required in the future to deal with law and order. And if any is required, SF have a veto.

    Do you think Conor Murphy now fully supports the rule of law as per my question above? Or does being a “good Republican” mean you’re exempt? It’s an important question given that the DUP are going to allow people who were involved in terrorist murders to have a say in laws relating to Justice.

    I agree with Bob Wilson – This is merely a Sequencing Arrangement for potential agreements. The only thing really agreed is the SF demand for P&J to be devolved.

    A month ago Lord Morrow said he didn’t envisage devolution in the lifetime of the current assembly. So obviously the DUP were “got at” by the Government given their recent difficulties.

  • abc123

    tacapall – “The key wording being, examining the St Andrews Agreement and identifying all matters contained within it which have not been “faithfully implemented or actioned” In other words Irish Language Act, North South bodies and whatever else is on the equality agenda.”

    Agreed. Should we pencil in the date of the next crisis when Unionists will be once again pushed by the Government when SF threatens to bring down the Assembly? It’s almost laughable that the DUP used to say that the days of pushover Unionism has ended.

  • tacapall

    It’s an important question given that the DUP are going to allow people who were involved in terrorist murders to have a say in laws relating to Justice.
    Posted by abc123 on Feb 05, 2010 @ 01:34 PM

    Where do you get this logic from, are you saying everyone in Sinn Fein is connected to terrorism, can we also then argue that same case for the DUP who were involved in Ulster Resistance, etc who along with the UDA, UVF brought tons of weapons into the country from South Africa, these weapons were used to murder innocent catholics.

  • JohnM

    Don’t you get it tacapall? They were defending their country from those uppity fenians, so of course they weren’t terrorists.

  • IanR

    ardmaj55:

    “They’ll definitely be back to standoff after next year’s assembly elections because during the next term, SF will be entitled to the Justice Minister’s seat. I don’t think it’ll be DUP who’ll be in position to deny SF that, by then.”

    Mark McG:

    “The Northern Ireland Act 2009 makes it clear the Justice Minister won’t be selected by d’hondt in 2012 unless that mechanism is approved by cross-community vote.”

    In any case, there won’t be a need to appoint a Justice minister in 2012. The next Assembly elections are due in 2011, at which point someone will be appointed (or re-appointed, if they haven’t made a hash of the first year in office and they get re-elected) for the four year lifetime of the next Assembly.

    In 2012 the sunset clause in the 2009 Act means that the [i]mechanism[/i] for appointing to the Justice ministry expires, but [b]not[/b] the [i]mandate[/i] of the Justice minister who was appointed the previous year.

    The parties will then have three years to agree an alternative appointment mechanism, before the next-but-one Assembly elections due in 2015.

    Incidentally, if an Assembly collapse had occurred last week causing an early election this coming May, then the next Assembly poll after that would be due in 2014. So by dealing now, the DUP have ensured that the Justice minister will be someone with cross-community support for five years from now as opposed to four.

  • From the News Letter: A spokesman for the Loyal Orders

    The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and the Royal Black Institution will now examine in detail the aspects of the political agreement involving public assemblies and parades.

    Our initial reaction is that it is a positive step forward and we are pleased that people have been focusing on the issue of parading…. See more

    Everyone must now work to find the best regulatory system surrounding public assemblies and parades and we remain committed to playing a continuing and constructive part in that.

  • IanR

    “Just caught the tailend of an interview on BBC News where it was stated the new procedures for dealing with parades would only kick in in September this year”

    “The Parades Commission will continue until the new improved arrangements are in place.”

    The legislation setting up the replacement for the Parades Connission only begins its passage through the Assembly in September, won’t be enacted until the end of the year. Then there’d have to be a recruitment period for membership of the new body that will adjudicate where mediation fails…

    So realistically you’re looking at the start of the 2011 marching season at the earliest before the new arrangements are in place. That would tie in with the onset of the new local government arrangements after the May 2011 council elections, which will be advantageous if local councils are going to play a part in the mediation or adjudication processes, as some of the more politically imbalanced councils will be disappearing from the scene.

    (Hopefully someone with a handle on the stats will be able to verify that last point? It’s my understanding that the new 11 council model will smooth out some of the imbalances when compared with the old set-up, i.e. there’ll still be councils with a unionist majority but they’ll have a larger nationalist minority, AND VICE VERSA.)

  • danielmoran

    ABC123 [23] So this is the thanks the DUP got from Brown for the 42 day detention. We needn’t worry then about DUP having an influence in the event of a hung parliament. Robbo must have told the 14 dissidents that a wholesale exodus to the TUV would look a bit tawdry to the voters which is why they’ve all signed up to this, or at least have kept their heads down. Nigel dodds absent from peter’s side this morning. tut, tut.

  • abc123

    Kilsally, if the statement from the Loyal Orders is the only fig leaf the DUP have got, then it’s a rather small fig leaf!

  • Mark McGregor

    IanR,

    Councils aren’t mentioned explicitly in this ‘agreement’ but if we are assuming their role will mirror that mentioned in the SRPB then balance/imbalance won’t make much difference.

    They are see in an administration and facilitation function completely lacking any authority in that document.

  • Mark McGregor

    Aside: if the new model does follow Ashdown’s proposals it will also make life much easier for dissenting/dissident republicans. At present they have been encountering problems as they will not submit forms to the PSNI. Moving the administrative function to Councils should mean they are able to apply with few qualms.

  • Driftwood

    danielmoran
    You’re forgetting about the letters all DUP MLA’s were made to sign enforcing them to stand down if they didn’t toe the line.
    I’m guessing these were produced in advance of the ‘unanimous’ decision to give in to SF on the latest ‘staging post’ path.

  • johncrow

    I thought that the Hillsborough Talks were to sort out outstanding issues from the St. Andrews Agreement, yet item 5 of this new Agreement has been inserted to sort out outstanding issues from the St. Andrews Agreement! Are we in for another groundhog day?
    johncrow

  • Driftwood

    Indeed johncrow
    After SF shouted ‘BANK!’they must reckon Robinson is easily the weakest link in their opposition. Vital to keep him on board if they are to win more concessions.

  • joeCanuck

    To paraphrase John Dean to Richard Nixon, P&J was a cancer at the heart of government.
    Now that it is to be excised, hopefully other agreements will be reached more easily.

  • Cynic2

    This is a Gruyere cheese of an agreement, shot through with holes. Eamonn Mallie is right….it gives the appearance of a final agreement but isn’t ….its all dependent upon the agreement on parades.

    The fat lady hasn’t sung yet folks. We have been conned.

  • Cynic2

    “used for an educational campus”

    At a time when we are oversupplied with educational estate and cannot afford to staff and maintain what we have this is a really smart move. So whose vote did this buy. Pork Barrel politics in Omagh!!

  • Seamus

    What. More review bodies about review bodies.

  • Cynic2

    The justrice provisions are a complete disgrace.

    What about the effectiveness of the system? Why does it take 3 times as long here to get a defendant to trial? why are so many cases dropped by PPS?

    And all those provisions to keep the legal aid tap open to fund the poor and under privileged, Absolutely. After all what will the profession do when all these enquiries wind down. All those nice middle class kids attending grammars and heading for Oxford Cambridge and Trinity have rights too you know and we cant expect the state to not give their daddies enough money to keep them in the state they aspire to.

  • danielmoran

    driftwood [9] you’re right, driftwood. I had forgotten about the letters of resignation, So, it’s the British Govt who took PR aside to remind him of what Plan B was about. And the DUP needn’t think the tories would act any differently. The Duppers have no friends anywhere now. Belligerence with SF has been shown not to work.

  • mayday

    Cynic 2
    Are you suggesting that the DUP Lawyers may soon need to return to practice in the courts? It is no wonder there is a backlog of cases in the courts when it takes 3 years for lawyers to produce arguments that are summarised in a few pages. I suppose they were on Stormont Aid.

  • ardmaj55

    I think i know now why the 14 dissidents fell in behind robbo, after they did that three weeks ago, it turned out it was only on the understanding he stood down from FM post temporarily. It’s a bit ominous for PR now that they’ve backed him up to the hilt last night. The words ‘back’ and ‘hilt’ are somewhat unfortunate in this context. As Humphrey in Yes Minister pointed out, You have to really get behind someone to stab them in the back.

  • slappymcgroundout

    It’s an important question given that the DUP are going to allow people who were involved in terrorist murders to have a say in laws relating to Justice.
    Posted by abc123 on Feb 05, 2010 @ 01:34 PM

    Where do you get this logic from, are you saying everyone in Sinn Fein is connected to terrorism, can we also then argue that same case for the DUP who were involved in Ulster Resistance, etc who along with the UDA, UVF brought tons of weapons into the country from South Africa, these weapons were used to murder innocent catholics.
    Posted by tacapall on Feb 05, 2010 @ 01:45 PM

    Slappy’s thought of the day:

    You make peace with your enemy and not with your friend.

  • heamaisbharney

    Looking a few months ahead and assuming that this agreement surmounts all hurdles and is finally fully accepted let’s just imagine the first time someone wants to pass a bill on some aspect of the law. I can see the DUP wanting to bring back hanging but Sinn GFéin will argue that just stretching people would be better. Uproarious days ahead me buckos.

  • danielmoran

    If Robinson is going to convince the 14 DUP dissidents to vote with him on march P&J transfer, he’ll have to get them to swallow a very tall tale, that is, that the abolition of the Parades commision amounts to the free run on all contentious parade routes for the OO and other orders. All they’re actually goiung to get in the September bill is even more formal hurdles in legislation to hamper the free run the wanted the OO to have. The hardliners in the DUP won’t accept that particular tall story.