Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Policing and Justice Report part of May timeline

11 March, 2008

Sinn Féin Policing Board member Martina Anderson MLA has said that the publication and debate of the Assembly Executive Review Committee report into the Transfer of Policing and Justice Powers is 'the next stage on the road to transferring these powers away from London and into the hands of locally elected politicians'.

Ms Anderson said:

"This report is the next stage on the road to transferring these powers away from London and into the hands of locally elected politicians. It has received all party backing in the committee.

"The vast majority of people here support this move. This Irish government supports this move. The US administration supports this move. The British government supports this move - indeed draft legislation transferring these powers is written and ready to be introduced.

"All that remains now is for the DUP to step up to the mark. To show the sort of political leadership they displayed previously when they did the deal to see these political institutions put back in place.

"Some unionist have argued that transfer can only happen when 'public confidence allows'. If that is the benchmark, then transfer should happen in May 08 because in my view - and in that expressed in opinion polls, that public confidence in fact exists now.

"And let's look at what the public have already entrusted us with. This Assembly is responsible for issues such as health, education and housing - responsibility of eradicating child poverty and building the kind of economy which benefits all. They have entrusted us with securing the health and well-being of their children. I ask you, what greater vote of confidence is there than that?

"And that is the confidence that Minister Dodds is selling to big American investors, telling them about the political stability that exists in the North and that the time is right for them to invest. But then, inconsistent with that, he tells people in the North that it does not exist - that more needs to be done. You cannot be a leader internationally and be lead locally without exposing massive inconsistencies in your argument.

"As a republican ex prisoner - I sat on the policing board with now junior minister DUP Jeffery Donaldson and I now sit on it with ex junior minister DUP Ian Paisley Junior and we collectively hold the Chief Constable to account. As Policing Board members we know that there is no public confidence in the current system of justice. There are real and genuine concerns out there about issues like call-out times, anti social behavior, death drivers, sex crime and repeat offenders on bail.

"These are issues for all our people, regardless of creed, colour, class or political opinion and these are the issues that the public want local politicians dealing with.

"Indeed the transfer of powers on policing and justice will give communities through their MLAs a voice and an ability to influence and shape the kind of policing and justice system which is needed to address some of the very real concerns that exist out there.

"The transfer of policing and justice will change that. It will mean those in charge of policing policy - and the policing purse-strings - will be answerable to the people they are suppose to serve.

"And let's be clear. The transfer of powers will happen.

"There is little point in the DUP or others trying to delay this simply for the sake of breaking through a deadline agreed at St. Andrews. The issues are too important to the people we all represent here for that sort of politicking to take place.

"So let us agree to press ahead with working out the small number of important issues that remain and take these powers into local hands in May as agreed at St. Andrews." ENDS

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