“… his party would not be able to proceed with the devolution of justice if it does not get Ulster Unionist backing”.In other words, Dodds wants unionism to speak with one voice on the issue, despite his own party’s commitments. But then again, Dodds seems pretty desperate for unionist unity these days – perhaps in order to save his own North Belfast seat?
Nonetheless, aside from P+J there are a few other issues to consider. The Hillsborough agreement had a few other deadlines, including the important one of parading – i.e. Orange Order marches. The ‘agreed outcomes’ of the SF-DUP working group are, as yet unpublished, but work should already have started on drafting a Bill to put them into force. No doubt they will leak before long.
There is also the Working Group chaired by Junior Ministers Kelly and Newton and involving all of the Parties in the Executive which is overseeing an exercise of trawling for and identifying all Executive papers and decisions which are still pending. This Working Group is supposed to “provide a report to the Executive detailing the level of progress made on each outstanding matter” and making “recommendations on whether and how progress could be made on any and all outstanding matters” by the end of February. That is today – where is this report?
Lastly – but not ‘leastly’ – there is the crucial issue of identifying and identifying all matters contained within the St Andrews Agreement “which have not been faithfully implemented or actioned”. “The First Minister and deputy First Minister will provide a report to the Executive by the end of February detailing the level of progress made on each outstanding matter”. That also is due today, so where is the report?
It seems that the Hillsborough deadlines are largely not being met, and those that appear to be met are clouded in secrecy. Is Hillsborough going to be just another failed agreement along Northern Ireland’s long political road? Is Northern Ireland ever going to show that it is not a ‘failed political entity’?