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.”