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14 February 2008 Edition

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Time is right to transfer policing and justice powers

In a joint statement on Sunday, 10 February Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that they “stand ready to help the political parties as they work to complete the process of devolution through the devolution of policing and justice powers”.
The statement went on to say that it remained the shared view of the Taoiseach and British Prime Minister that “the full implementation of all aspects of the St Andrews Agreement is building the community confidence necessary to enable the transfer of these powers to take place”.
While it was later reported that a spokesperson for Bertie Ahern was briefing to the effect that the two premiers acknowledged that the May deadline may not be met, the Taoiseach clarified the situation on the order of business in the Dáil following a question from Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan. Ahern reiterated the position that he was working towards the May deadline for the transfer of powers.
As a result of the Sinn Féin-DUP deal in March 2007 resulting in the restoration of political institutions, political representatives in the North have been able to focus on social and economic issues of concern that were marginalised through decades of conflict and British direct rule.
Now, another important crossroads has been reached. The transfer of powers over policing and justice is a crucial step in demonstrating that the North has moved on from an era of conflict towards one of peaceful political progress.
Equally important however is the fact that allowing locally elected political representatives to take charge of justice and policing policy could make a real difference to the lives of many people across the North by tackling issues such as anti-social crime which blights many areas.
Failure by the DUP to agree the transfer of powers would be a hugely negative development. The level of uncertainty that it would introduce to the political situation would undermine the progress made in recent times. It would have severe implications for future political, economic and social progress in the North and result in negative knock-on effects for the country as a whole.
Winning popular support for the political institutions has been built on the foundation of constant forward political momentum. Any grinding to a halt now runs the risk of the political process unravelling.
There exists no logic in putting the brakes on political progress.
The time has never been better, nor will it get better for the transfer of powers over policing and justice matters to the North. All that is needed now is is political leadership, wisdom and maturity from the Democratic Unionist Party.

An Phoblacht Magazine

AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:

  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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