Justice 2012 – The Way Forward
On Tuesday 10 January, the First Minister and deputy First Minister published proposals pertaining to the ‘Justice arrangements’ post May 2012 and other related matters following the failure of the parties to reach agreement at lengthy talks that day.
~ Wednesday, 18 January 2012
They sought views on their proposals and any other proposals which could command wider consensus. Comments were received from the Ulster Unionist Party, the SDLP and the Alliance Party. The Green Party, though not involved in the process, also made representations. None of the parties made proposals which purported to be able to command wider consensus than the proposals tabled by the First Minister and the deputy First Minister. Having further considered the matter in light of the representations made by the other parties, the First Minister and the deputy First Minister have agreed that they should:-
- Seek Executive approval to bring a resolution at the earliest opportunity to the Assembly to extend the present Justice arrangements beyond May 2012.
- Immediately write to the Secretary of State to ask him to introduce legislation at Westminster to ensure that the tenure of the Justice Minister is consistent with other Ministers. Pending the introduction of the necessary Westminster legislation, write and publish a letter to the Speaker indicating that the First Minister and deputy First Minister would commit their parties to ongoing support for the Justice minister appointed by cross community vote in the Assembly for the period of this Assembly term.
- Seek views from key stakeholders and interested parties on how the functions exercised by the Department of Employment and Learning should be transferred to other departments in the most appropriate manner.
- Ask officials to make arrangements to prepare the necessary Assembly legislation to abolish the Department of Employment and Learning and transfer its functions.
- Make an early start to the ‘2012 review’ provided for in the draft Programme for Government.
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