Official Report (Hansard)

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 19 May 2009

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Raymond McCartney (Deputy Chairperson)
Mrs Carmel Hanna
Mr Nelson McCausland
Mr Alan McFarland
Mr Alex Maskey
Mr Ian Paisley Jnr

The Deputy Chairperson (Mr McCartney):

We will now discuss issues about the devolution of policing and justice. Rather than read through the list of category two issues, if no one has anything to add, we will proceed to the discussion about the independence and accountability of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS). Are members content to do that?

Members indicated assent.

The Deputy Chairperson:

As this session is being recorded by Hansard, members should declare any relevant interests.

Mr Paisley Jnr:

I am a member of the Policing Board.

Mr McCausland:

I am a member of Belfast District Policing Partnership.

Mr A Maskey:

I am a member of the Policing Board.

The Deputy Chairperson:

Members may remember that on 12 May 2009, Alex Attwood requested that the Committee should spend some time discussing this matter. As per the agreed format, I will ask a representative of each party whether they have anything to say about the issue, after which we can have a discussion if required.

Mr Paisley Jnr:

I am happy to hear Alex’s views on the matter.

Mr McFarland:

The discussion about this issue was instigated by Alex on the grounds that he had a great deal to say about it. Perhaps he has managed to pass all the details to Carmel. However, given that we were to mine into the issue, it is slightly strange that the person who wanted to do the mining is not here.

Mrs Hanna:

His neighbour died two days ago, and he had to go to the funeral this morning. He did pass his concerns on to me, so we can discuss the issue if members want. Alternatively, I am happy to defer the discussion.

Mr McFarland:

I was not having a go at him. I was simply saying that he was adamant that he wanted to get down into the issue.

Mrs Hanna:

I think that he does.

Mr McFarland:

My point is about whether it is worth holding off on the discussion until Alex is present.

Mr Paisley Jnr:

I am happy to go ahead with it.

The Deputy Chairperson:

Carmel, what do you think?

Mrs Hanna:

I do not mind either way. It is up to members of the Committee.

Mr A Maskey:

I am happy either way. However, as I said last week, I am also mindful that we have a number of site visits arranged over the next couple of weeks. I have nothing further to add on behalf of our party. I am content to let the matter sit. If Carmel wants to raise the issue from her party’s point of view or from Alex Attwood’s point of view, I am happy to listen to it.

Mrs Hanna:

If it is going to be dealt with on another day, that is fine. However, if it is not, I want to raise the issues today.

The Deputy Chairperson:

Are members content to defer the discussion until next Tuesday?

The Committee Clerk:

The special adviser will be present next Tuesday. However, that meeting can go on for as long as it takes. If necessary, I can organise lunch. Alex Maskey made a point about the planned visits, and there is an issue about whether those visits will better inform the Committee’s discussion. There may be a question about whether it should be rescheduled for discussion next week or for after the visits. I want to be clear about that to enable us to put it on the agenda at the most appropriate time.

The Deputy Chairperson:

Does anyone have any comments about whether we should have a brief discussion next week or defer it until after the visits?

Mrs Hanna:

I am content as long as it goes back on the agenda.

Mr A Maskey:

It will have to be on the agenda anyway, because it has to be discussed.

Mrs Hanna:

Yes; it does need to be discussed.

The Deputy Chairperson:

OK.

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