St Andrews (2)

I've been noticing that a lot of people, including a lot of panicked Shinners (and a lot of gleeful dissidents), seem to think that the St Andrews proposals were agreed amongst all the participants at the St Andrews negotiations.

They weren't.

As I understand it, this is what happened. The negotiations were about to collapse and everyone was going home. The governments then pulled out this document and offered it to the parties. The parties said Very well, we'll bring this back and think about it.

Personally my preference would have been to tell the governments where they could stick their document but then, I'm not on the negotiating team and there's probably a reason for that!!

Having read the thing thoroughly, I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole. Quite apart from my concerns about signing up to policing under any circumstances, and particularly under circumstances where it is clear to anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex that we are under the cosh, the details of this particular proposal should rule it out. Party policy, as agreed at our last Ard Fheis, includes a prerequisite for devolution of criminal justice and policing. This document says only that if everything goes according to plan there should be enough cross-community confidence for the Assembly to "request" devolution by May 2008.

That's a DUP wrecker's charter if I've ever seen one.

There's simply no way we can sign up to an agreement which would have us take seats on the policing board well in advance of this devolution and with only the vague promise that we ought to be able to "request" it in 18 months' time.

I also believe that if we're going to take a step of this magnitude we need to get more out of it than the measly morsels on offer. OASA, the remaining POWs, the OTRs ... none of these matters are dealt with in the proposals. The civil rights advances on offer don't seem to me to be much more than what the GFA already calls for. Why should we make more concessions just to get what we're already supposed to be entitled to?

So for all these reasons, I'll be strongly opposing our signing up to these proposals. And I'll stick my neck out and say that we won't. Depth of feeling on this issue is too strong and these proposals are too far from fulfilling the criteria previously agreed upon. Much, much, much too far.


Chris Gaskin said...

I agree 100%

Wednesday said...

I think most of us do Chris, which is why I don't think these proposals will fly. It won't even go to an Ard Fheis without major changes.

  Subscribe with Bloglines