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Maskey challenges DUP claims on transfer of policing powers

25 February, 2009 - by Alex Maskey


Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing Alex Maskey has described the publication of the draft legislation to give effect to the transfer of powers on policing and justice as another significant step towards the transfer of these powers in the near future.
Mr. Maskey also described the DUP leader's claims that the Bill represents gains for the DUP and a rewriting of the GFA as bogus, pathetic and electorally driven.
Mr. Maskey said:
"The Bill is a further step along the process agreed in November to give effect to the transfer of policing and justice. The draft legislation gives expression to interim arrangements agreed between Sinn Fein and the DUP last November. The arrangements are designed to facilitate the transfer of powers in the near future. They cover the period from transfer up until May 2012. By then the parties are required to agree new arrangements which will take effect beyond that date.
"Peter Robinson's claims about unionists securing a veto over who will take on the position of Justice Minister are bogus and clearly electorally driven. Peter Robinson's preoccupation with Jim Allister has become pathetic. Once again when the community demands positive leadership on a positive agenda, the DUP leader retreats behind the demand for unionist veto's.
"No amount of bluster about veto's, triple locks or blocks can disguise that fact that if the institutions are to work, if we are to deliver for our community, there is a need and obligation on political leaders to work in genuine partnership. The job of leaders is to make and deliver on agreements not to construct veto's.
"Sometimes the DUP would have their supporters believe otherwise. But the reality is they are in partnership government with Sinn Féin. Peter Robinson shares office with Martin McGuinness on a joint and coequal basis.
"In agreeing the process to give effect to the transfer of powers both the DUP and Sinn Fein agreed that neither of our parties would nominate for the position of Justice Minister at this time. We agreed that the position of Justice Minister would be filled on the basis of the cross-community support mechanism set out in the Good Friday Agreement. The new Justice Minister will require the support of a majority of unionist MLAs and a majority of nationalist MLAs. However Peter Robinson may wish to present this, it adds up to a role for all the Sinn Fein Assembly members in the appointment of the Justice Minister.
"Peter Robinson's claim that the OFMdFM will have no role in the judicial appointments process is also disingenuous. The draft legislation provides for the appointment of judges on the basis of recommendations of the Judicial Appointments Commission. Legislation is already in place which provides for appointments to the JAC to be made by the Ministers in OFMdFM acting jointly.
"The process agreed between Peter Robinson and myself last November which included agreement on the appointment of a new Attorney General was an important first step. The subsequent work of the Assembly and Executive Review Committee on related issues and, most recently, the publication of the draft legislation to affect transfer are further significant steps.
"It is important that the electoral battle which has already begun within unionism does not get in the way of the progress that has been made towards securing the transfer of powers.
"What the community wants and demands is the completion of the process set out to bring this about. The focus on all political leaders must be on building and delivering a first class justice system for all." ENDS

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