The last few days have seen a flurry of statements in relation to the devolution of Policing and Justice Powers. According to the St Andrews agreement these powers were to be devolved by May this year.
It should not be underestimated how crucial this timetable was for Republicans when we decided to endorse the Ard Fheis motion on Policing.
The motion which was endorsed at the extraordinary Ard Fheis contained the following
"That the Ard Chomhairle is mandated to implement this motion only when the power-sharing institutions are established and when the Ard Chomhairle is satisfied that the policing and justice powers will be transferred. Or if this does not happen within the St Andrews timeframe, only when acceptable new partnership arrangements to implement the Good Friday Agreement are in place.”
Now from this section of the motion a few things are very clear.
1. The motion could only be implemented once the power-sharing institutions were established
2.When the Ard Chomhairle were satisfied that the policing and justice powers would be transferred
3.If that did not happen within the St Andrews timetable "Only when acceptable new partnership arrangements to implement the Good Friday Agreement are in place"
At the weekend we had Bertie Ahern and Gordon Brown calling for the last piece of the devolution process to be completed. This then led to a very irate Peter Robinson and Ian Paisley declaring that the May 2008 timetable would come and pass.
We even had to endure nonsense about the disbanding of the Army Council of the IRA; Alex Maskey quite rightly rejected that nonsense.
This element of confusion between the Assembly partners will not fill Republicans with much confidence that the deal we signed up to will come to pass.
It's because of this ridiculous situation that my own Cumann sent the following motion to this years Ard Fheis, set for the 29th of this month.
"This Ard Fheis mandates the Ard Chomhairle to set out, in public, the party’s position in relation to our involvement in the current policing structures should the British Government fail to devolve policing and justice powers by the 8th May 2008."
At the time of the policing debate within Republicanism certain assurances were made, Republicans will now be asking what Sinn Féin intends to do should the devolution of policing and justice fail to happen by May of this year.