Royal Visit to Queen’s

DUA members joined fellow Queen’s students and staff in welcoming Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh to the University this week.

The Royal couple were joined by First Minister and Party Leader Dr. Ian Paisley and Secretary of State Shaun Woodward at an event which marked the singular contribution Queen’s University has made to education and to Northern Ireland since it received its Royal Charter in 1908.

Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson, said the University family was honoured that The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh had marked the Centenary with a visit.

“This is an important year for Queen’s and the region we serve. The University has played a critical role in the educational, cultural, social and economic development of Northern Ireland over the past century. Today’s visit is tangible recognition of that contribution.

“We welcome Her Majesty today, not just as an honoured guest, but as part of our community. The Queen’s official role as the University’s Visitor is an important part of our system of governance.

“This visit marks another red-letter day for Queen’s as it celebrates 100 years as one of the United Kingdom’s leading universities.”

Commenting on the visit Dr Paisley said:

“Her Majesty The Queen sets an excellent example for all of us in terms of duty and devotion towards other people. In her long reign she has served our country well and has been an excellent ambassador for the United Kingdom overseas, helping to attract investment and tourism to all parts of the UK.

“In my capacity as First Minister of Northern Ireland I am delighted to welcome Her Majesty to this part of the United Kingdom. The Queen has visited Northern Ireland many times before, but not, I believe at a more promising time for the Province. It seems at last that the days of violence are over and that people are prepared to abide by shared democratic standards. We are proud to live under the rule of the Crown and we are still Her Majesty’s most loyal subjects.

“Her Majesty has a very special place in the hearts of the people of Northern Ireland: she will always be admired by most people in our Province. It is my honour to welcome her to Northern Ireland today.”

Devolution of Policing and Justice Cannot Occur Until the DUP Say So

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds has reiterated his party’s position that sufficient public confidence does not exist to allow the devolution of Policing and Justice Powers to Stormont and that the DUP will be condition-led not calendar-led when considering the matter. Mr. Dodds was speaking prior to the publication of the Assembly’s Institutional and Executive Review Committee report on policing and following the publication of draft legislation by the Secretary of State concerning devolution of Policing and Justice Powers. Speaking today the DUP MP said:

“The tactic of drafting legislation and attempting to pass it off as a fait accompli has been tried once before with the DUP when Maria Eagle drew up a draft Irish Language Act, which the DUP subsequently confined to the dustbin. We weren’t bullied then and we certainly won’t be bullied now over the issue of Policing and Justice Powers by the government. Shaun Woodward can publish all the draft legislation he wishes, but the truth of the situation is that the DUP has secured, as part of the St. Andrews Agreement a triple lock on the devolution of Policing and Justice Powers and we shall enforce it.

The legislation arising from St. Andrews makes it very clear that devolution of Policing and Justice Powers can only occur if three conditions are met. These are, that the First Minister gives his consent, that the members of the Assembly give their consent and that the Westminster Parliament gives its consent. The DUP will not be giving its consent for the devolution of Policing and Justice Powers because we do not believe that sufficient public confidence exists to allow that to occur. It is up to other parties to create the circumstances whereby public confidence is increased.

I have to say that I find the government’s actions on this issue to be nothing short of duplicitous. For many months now, the DUP has been working hard to get the legislation changed around compensation arrangements for Orange Halls and making it easier for halls to access money when they are attacked. During that process we have been told that it takes time to draw up legislation. But whenever it’s a government pet project like this it seems that legislation, comprising 4 orders and in excess of 90 pages can be produced seemingly out of thin air.

The days of Unionists taking orders from Direct Rulers and having things imposed over our heads are over. The DUP has secured a veto over this issue. Devolution of Policing and Justice Powers will only occur when the DUP says so – not one minute before. The frantic efforts of the government to spin otherwise are false – we are no closer to the devolution of these sensitive powers than we where before this ill-advised announcement was made.”