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15 May 2008 Edition

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Coming period will see if DUP are up to challenge of government

The transfer of powers over policing and justice in the Six Counties to the North’s Executive was agreed during the political negotiations at St Andrews. It remains a critical issue to be resolved in the political process.
In an interview with An Phoblacht this week Martin McGuinness makes it very clear that republicans are steadfast in their determination to see this issue resolved and the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements upheld.
There is a clear understanding across the political spectrum, not just throughout the island of Ireland, but also in Britain and in the US on the absolute necessity to ensure that policing and justice powers are transferred. The DUP knows this.
The North’s joint First Minister makes plain that it is his belief that it is a matter of ‘when and not if’ those powers will be transferred. The ‘when’ will come all the quicker through constructive political dialogue between Sinn Féin and the DUP.
Martin McGuinness also points to the fact that the importance of the transfer of these powers lies not just in its symbolic importance for the new political dispensation but in the practical sense of what is occurring ‘on the ground’ in communities across the North. What is urgently required is effective and accountable policing structures that serve the interests of all the people.
In the interview, McGuinness also confronts vested Establishment interests who have mounted a concerted campaign recently against Sinn Féin Education Minister Caitríona Ruane. Those vested interests, supported by elements in the media, he says, are seeking to break the Sinn Féin Minister. McGuinness declares that they will not succeed and that attempts to effectively retain the discredited 11-Plus system of academic selection under another name are unacceptable and that international experience shows that condemning children as ‘failures’ at the age of 11, is a failed policy.
McGuinness says Sinn Féin’s presence in the North’s Executive over the past 12 months has been hugely important for the ongoing process of social and political change in Ireland.
As Ian Paisley moves off the political scene, McGuinness says he looks forward to working responsibly with Peter Robinson as DUP leader and joint First Minister.
The Peace Process has made a huge difference to the Irish political landscape but McGuinness emphasises that more needs to be done. The question he says, is whether Sinn Féin is working with people who are fit for the challenges of government. That question will be answered in the short period ahead.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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