Friday 12 February 2010

A sting in the tail

The full intricacies of the Hillsborough Agreement are still being digested by everyone – even those party to the agreement itself. One rather nice little sting in the tail has come to light today, in an article in the News Letter:

"Payments to former members of the RUC part-time reserve will only be made if policing and justice powers are devolved, the Government has confirmed.

A £20 million payment to compensate individuals who served in the part-time reserve was negotiated as a 'side deal' between the Government and the DUP late last year."

"Yesterday a spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office told the News Letter that the payment, which will come from the Treasury in London, would not be available if policing and justice powers are not devolved."
That news will cause serious problems for the DUP, which has spent a lot of time and effort positioning itself as the defenders of the RUC and its ex-Members. If the DUP now drag their feet on the transfer of policing and justice, the first concrete victims will be, not Sinn Féin or nationalists in general, but members of a group that the DUP considers close to its heart.

Even if, as this blog suggested yesterday, the DUP try to use the issue of Orange marches to further delay the transfer of policing and justice, the end result will be genuine anger amongst the ex-RUC community. Whether the DUP try to blame Sinn Féin for the looming failure to agree on parades or not, these members of the ex-RUC community will feel strongly let down (and financially penalised) by the DUP, who have it in their power to reach the agreement necessary to unlock the money.

Failure to come to an agreement on Orange marches will not change the reality on the ground – the Parades Commission will remain – but it will frustrate a sizeable part of the DUP's core support, those who stand to gain financially from the transfer of policing and justice.

It seems, yet again, as if the DUP has painted itself into a corner.

1 comment:

hoboroad said...