Tuesday, 18 November 2008

No transparency, no accountability - government Northern Ireland style resumes

Both Ignited and the Ulster Unionist website ponder exactly why 152 days without government were necessary to reach agreement which will bring Sinn Féin back to the executive table on Thursday. Ostensibly the two parties have simply agreed that a process aimed at achieving devolution of policing and justice will now take place. The UUP piece points out that either issues around the Maze, Irish language, academic selection etc. remain unresolved with the potential to derail executive government once again, or else side deals have been done, indicative of the opaque carve-up which represents Sinn Féin and the DUP’s preferred method of business.

Fair Deal outlines detail which he understands has been agreed, on Slugger. There will be a process aimed at bringing about devolution of policing and justice, operating on the basis of a cross community vote. The aim is to arrive at temporary devolved arrangements which must then be firmed up by 2012. What is being announced, publicly at least, is merely an agreement to agree sometime in the future. This is carve-up government at its least transparent. The UUP piece cites one aspect of firm agreement in the documents,

“Where is the accountability in a system in which the DUP and Sinn Fein, without consulting the Assembly or Executive can both 'be minded' to appoint an Attorney General and then name the person?”

The executive will meet on Thursday and hopefully it can begin to actually tackle issues which are relevant to people in Northern Ireland. This entire episode, however, reinforces suspicions that Sinn Féin and the DUP will continue to govern behind closed doors, trading off against each other’s sectional interests and ignoring smaller parties. Although government in Northern Ireland may be revived, it is still gravely ill and nothing has been done to remedy the root causes of its illness.

2 comments:

fair_deal said...

Why 152 days?

Because SF tried a blockade to force a P&J date. If SF have settled for 'a process'.

"The UUP piece points out that either issues around the Maze, Irish language, academic selection etc. remain unresolved with the potential to derail executive government once again,"

UUP wanting its cake and eating it. Terrible if they have sorted out these issues and terrible if they haven't. However, if they had they would attack them for not acting accountably.

Is the UUP advocating that there should have been a trade off between a stadium and policing and justice powers?

As ignited said there is plenty more to come on this. The letters are by no means the end point.

"it is still gravely ill and nothing has been done to remedy the root causes of its illness."

That comes in 2012 when structures are reviewed surely?

Timothy Belmont said...

What are the constitutional consequences of the devolution of Policing and Justice? Would the police really become more accountable? What difference will there be if Justice is devolved? Will all symbols, attire, traditions of the British State, as occurred with the Police here, be neutered?
I simply do not know.