Movement on Policing and Justice as Assembly and Executive Review Committee seeks Fresh Mandate

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 16 September 2008

Reference: AER 20-07/08

The Assembly and Executive Review Committee met today and agreed to seek a fresh mandate from the Assembly to further consider matters relating to the devolution of policing and justice.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Jimmy Spratt, Chairperson of the Committee said:

“In light of advice received, and the fact that the First Minister and Deputy First Minister had written to the Committee and asked it to look at matters relating to the devolution of policing and justice, the Committee decided, by a majority vote, to seek a fresh mandate from the Assembly to involve itself in the further consideration of policing and justice matters.” Mr Spratt explained, “it will now be for the Assembly to decide if it agrees to refer the following specific matters to the Assembly and Executive Review Committee:

(a) a review of progress on the implementation of the recommendations of, and the resolution of outstanding issues identified in, the Report on the Inquiry into the Devolution of Policing and Justice Matters (published in March 2008); and

(b) consideration of any other matter relating to the devolution of policing and justice matters.”

Mr Spratt went on to say that he and the Deputy Chairperson, Raymond McCartney, had agreed to have an initial meeting with the First Minister and deputy First Minister on Monday evening but that he they had stressed, at the meeting, that it should not be regarded as fulfilling, in any way, the obligation placed upon the First Minister and the deputy First Minister to appear before the Committee; and that they intended to report full details of the meeting to the Committee today.

Mr Spratt and Mr McCartney also said that they had made it clear to the First Minister, and the deputy First Minister, that it was entirely a matter for to Committee to consider, and decide

  • whether, or not, it wished to seek a fresh mandate from the Assembly,
  • the extent to which it becomes involved in the further consideration of those matters;
  • the way in which it involves itself in those matters;
  • what matters it will consider;
  • who it might engage with; and
  • how, and when, it might report – to the Assembly

Mr Spratt explained that the First Minister and Deputy First Minister had indicated that due to pressing diary commitments they were unable to appear before the Committee today. Both Mr Spratt and Mr McCartney confirmed that, during the course of the meeting, the First Minister, and the deputy First Minister stated that

  • The DUP and Sinn Fein wish to see progress made on the devolution of policing and justice matters
  • Devolution is a sensitive issue and needs to be handled carefully
  • They recognised that all parties represented on the Committee wish to see policing and justice powers devolved and they are keen to allow the Committee to contribute, positively, to achieve devolution
  • Further work needs to be done on modalities and structures
  • They acknowledged that it is entirely a matter for the Committee to determine how it wishes to proceed.

Mr Spratt also confirmed that the First Minister and deputy First Minister had given a firm commitment to appear before the Committee in the future.

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