Presentation on theme: "The St Andrews Agreement – an aid for dialogue and debate Brian Gormally Justice Associates Project supported by the European Union’s PEACE III Programme,"— Presentation transcript:
The St Andrews Agreement – an aid for dialogue and debate Brian Gormally Justice Associates Project supported by the European Union’s PEACE III Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body
The St Andrews Agreement – the context The St Andrews Agreement can only be understood in the context of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement which: Established devolved democratic institutions in Northern Ireland – an Assembly and power-sharing Executive (Strand 1) Established a North/South Ministerial Council (Strand 2) Established a British-Irish Council (East-West) (Strand 3) Established a Human Rights Commission and a new Equality Commission and put equality duties on all public bodies Made arrangements for decommissioning, normalization of security, support for victims and reconciliation and the release of prisoners Made provision for the reform of policing and criminal justice and their possible devolution
History November first Executive formed – several suspensions – operated for about 11 months until October Assembly suspended November Assembly elections leaving DUP and Sinn Fein as two largest parties – Assembly remained suspended September IRA decommissioning May recall of members to “2006 Assembly” with deadline of 24 November for agreement on devolution October British and Irish Governments and the political parties met in the Scottish town of St Andrews and an Agreement named for it was published on 13 October 2006
St Andrews tried to address: Lack of Confidence Sinn Fein’s that the DUP would fully sign up to power-sharing and devolved government, including North-South Bodies and the devolution of policing and justice DUP’s that Sinn Fein would fully support the police and the rule of law Reassurance DUP that they would not have to support Republican policies in government and that Sinn Fein would support all policing bodies Sinn Fein that Unionists would not be able to obstruct the North-South elements of the Agreement and that policing and justice would actually be devolved to the Assembly Particular issues Sinn Fein and the DUP also had a number of particular matters that they wanted dealt with before they agreed to power sharing
The main points of St Andrews 1. Changes to the institutions The First and Deputy First Ministers to be appointed by the two biggest parties without need for an Assembly vote so that Unionists would not have to vote for a Nationalist and vice versa Increased Executive and Assembly control over the individual power of Ministers Support for North-South institutions to be part of the Pledge of Office and other mechanisms would be introduced to ensure that they could not be disrupted 2. Active support for policing and for devolution A statement that support for law and order meant the active support of the PSNI and all policing institutions A timetable for devolution of policing and justice 3. Action on a range of issues demanded by the parties These included human rights, equality, victims and other issues 4. A financial package to support devolution This was just a general commitment to negotiate an adequate package
Some questions Have the Strand 1 changes brought in by the St Andrews Agreement led to stability or paralysis? How have the North-South Ministerial Council and its Implementation Bodies worked since the restoration of devolution? None of the new North-South or East-West bodies have been set up – how valuable would they be and should they be established? All major parties now support and participate in policing and justice institutions – has this improved peace and safety for the people of Northern Ireland?
Some questions There is currently still no agreement on the devolution of policing and justice – should this happen and what difference would it make? The Human Rights Commission has proposed a Bill of Rights to Government – what should happen to it? What should be the role of the new Commission for Victims and Survivors? There is no Single Equality Act – should there be? There is no Irish Language Act – should there be? Is Ulster Scots language, heritage and culture appropriately supported? There has been a review of parading but no new agreement – what should happen?