by Talking Peace | 5th February 2010 11:38 am

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Agreement at Hillsborough Castle

The full text of the agreement announced today by the 26 County
Taoiseach Brian Cowen, the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the
First Minister Peter Robinson and the Deputy First Minister Martin


5 February 2010

1. This text is an affirmation of our shared belief in the importance
of working together in a spirit of partnership to deliver success for
the entire community.

2. We wish to see this agreement reflect our willingness to ensure
the Executive and the Assembly reflect better this spirit of
partnership, mutual respect and equality which remain vital for the
success of devolution.

3. We recognise the importance of improving the efficiency of the
Executive and greater inclusiveness. The outworking of this agreement
will allow the uninterrupted functioning of the Assembly and Executive.

Section 1 – Policing and Justice

Devolution timetable

1. Following community consultation the First Minister and deputy
First Minister will table jointly a resolution for a cross- community
vote in the Assembly on 9 March. Following affirmation of the resolution
they will support all necessary steps in the Assembly to ensure
devolution of powers by the 12 April. The Government will set out
publicly the Parliamentary schedule for the related transfer orders
required to effect devolution. Policing and justice powers will be
devolved on that day.

The Department of Justice – Model

2. The Assemblys Department of Justice Bill, which completed its
passage in December, establishes the new Department of Justice and sets
out the arrangements for the appointment of the Justice Minister. It
provides that there will be a single Justice Minister in charge of the
Department of Justice which will be responsible for devolved policing
and justice policy and legislation. The Justice Minister will be elected
by a cross community vote in the Assembly following a nomination by any

Identification of Justice Minister

3. On Monday 8 February 2010 the First Minister and deputy First
Minister will convene a meeting of party leaders to consider
applications of interest for the post of Justice Minister. The purpose
of this meeting will be to allow the First Minister and
deputy First Minister to identify which candidate they believe is best
able to command cross-community support in the Assembly.

Independence of Judiciary and Chief Constable

4. We believe that the independence of the judiciary is essential in
a democratic society which supports the rule of law. It is of paramount
importance that the judicial function remains independent of Government
and immune from any partisan or political interest. Public confidence
requires that judicial decisions are taken in a fair, impartial,
objective and consistent manner. This confidence can only be maintained
if judges are able to act with independence.

5. As part of the devolved policing arrangements the Chief Constable
will be operationally responsible for directing and controlling the
police. The PSNI will have operational responsibility for policing, and
for implementing the policies and objectives set by the Department of
Justice and the Policing Board.

Addendum to Programme for Government

6. There will be an addendum to the Programme for Government (PfG) for
the Department of Justice which will be drafted by the Justice Minister
and brought to the Assembly for approval. We believe that in bringing
forward his/her proposals the Justice Minister should give consideration
to the following:

* The addendum should be drafted in such a way as to be a seamless fit
into the current PfG, conforming to the format of the existing document;
Some of the work of existing departments touch upon the proposed
functions of a new DOJ for example the good relations unit in OFMDFM has
a key role in dealing with community relations. The addendum should
reflect that ongoing work and be drafted collaboratively with officials
from relevant departments;

* Confidence, avoidable delay, rehabilitation, recidivism and the
interests of victims and witnesses are key elements of any addendum.
Developing policies which support effective policing should also be part
of any forward work programme.

7. The necessary actions to support the agreed policies could usefully
include, inter alia:

* Building upon the ongoing Tribunal Reform programme;

* Learning from international best practice in matters of criminal

* Full provision of adequate funding and other resources for legal
services to the disadvantaged in society, ensuring equality of access to
justice for all;

* Establishment of a sentencing guidelines council;

* Review of alternatives to custody;

* Adequate provision of diversionary alternatives to prosecution;

* The powers of the Prisoner Ombudsman to be reviewed in light of
experience elsewhere;

* A review of the conditions of detention, management and oversight of
all prisons;

* A comprehensive strategy for the management of offenders;
Consideration of a women’s prison, which is fit for purpose and meets
international obligations and best practice;

* Review of how children and young people are processed at all stages of
the criminal justice system, including detention, to ensure compliance
with international obligations and best practice;

* Development of a Victims Code of Practice setting out a minimum
standard of service that criminal justice agencies will be expected to
provide to victims of crime; to include the right of victims to be kept
informed about all aspects of the progress of their case (including
decisions whether or not to prosecute following a complaint, to accept
pleas to alternative charges or to discontinue a prosecution); the
outcome of court hearings; offenders bail conditions;
forthcoming appeals; post-sentence issues; and compensation
applications to providing assistance to victims including material,
psychological and social assistance

* It is envisaged that there would be a presumption of full and frank
disclosure of information by the PPS to a Victim under the Code except
where to do so would prejudice the administration of justice or fail a
public interest test. Consideration could be given to place all or part
of the Code on a statutory footing;

* A miscellaneous provisions bill.

Relationship between Justice Minister and Executive

8. The Justice Minister will have the same status in the Executive as
other Ministers the Justice Minister will have the same standing in
terms of attending and voting at the Executive and as with other
Ministers the operation of the Department would be subject to his/her
direction and control. In this context as with other Ministers the
Justice Minister would have responsibility for operational matters
within the Department.

9. Having regard to the particular responsibilities of the Justice
Minister we have agreed that quasi-judicial decisions shall be made by
the Justice Minister without recourse to the Executive.

10. The Justice Minister will bring any proposals he/she believes
necessary to the Executive detailing how the Ministerial Code or
Procedural Guidance should be amended to ensure effective
decision-making in relation to urgent, confidential or other matters in
his/her Department which would normally require consideration by the
Executive. Pending the implementation of any agreed amendments to the
Ministerial code or procedural guidance, the Executive would normally
grant retrospective approval to any decisions in which the Minister had
acted reasonably. However, the First Minister and deputy First Minister,
acting jointly may require any matter to be brought to the Executive for
consideration or agree jointly that retrospective approval would not be
granted. Notwithstanding the above all issues which cut across the
responsibility of two or more ministers, legislative proposals and
financial allocations to the Department of Justice would require
Executive consideration. It is expected that any new arrangements would
be in place by the summer recess.

Additional Financial Settlement

Letter from the Prime Minister dated 21 October

Dear Peter and Martin,

I promised to write to you setting out the elements of the financial
settlement that you agreed to present to your respective parties. Our
discussions on the finance have been careful, detailed and considered
and I am grateful to you for the time you have given to them. Together
we have, I believe, achieved an outcome in which we each have confidence
and which will ensure that when policing and justice powers are
transferred, the Northern Ireland Justice Department will have a secure
financial foundation which we all recognise is important in ensuring
confidence in the policing and justice services across the community. I
believe the settlement which is outlined below is a good settlement
which will meet the needs of a devolved Justice Department.

The key elements of the settlement are:

* The Northern Ireland Executive will have access to the reserve to meet
any exceptional security pressures relating to policing and justice. On
the same basis, HM Treasury will be prepared to make available up to an
additional 37.4 million in 2010/11.

* Capital budgets in the next CSR period will be sufficient to enable the
Executive to take forward routine, but necessary work, to maintain the
operational capacity of existing assets, to complete the police training
college and to come to its own

* The legal aid allocation is a 20 million a year addition to baseline
through to the end of 2012/13, after which efficiency savings will be
expected to take effect, allowing the baseline increase to be reduced to
14 million a year. To meet additional pressures over the next two years,
including other courts pressures, we agree the need on a one-off basis
for a further 12 million. If, in the event, pressures turn out to be
higher than this, HM Treasury will provide further money from the
reserve up to a maximum of 39 million. Until the end of 2012/13 this
access to the reserve will not be recouped from future EYF.

* HM Government will gift the four agreed former military bases to the
Northern Ireland Executive. It would be anticipated that a portion of
the land in Omagh will be used for an educational campus but it would be
expected that disposal proceeds from the other sites would be used, on a
basis agreed with HM Treasury, to meet exceptional resource pressures
(including potentially equal pay claims). HM Treasury will work with the
Northern Ireland Executive to help ensure that any timing issues,
related to delays in securing these disposal proceeds as a consequence
of market conditions, can be addressed on an agreed basis.

* On police pensions, previously identified pressures of 101 million can
be fully addressed through technical changes which will include a public
expenditure neutral DEL to AME reclassification.

* There are potential pressures (the “long list”) of around 15 million in
2010/11 on resources relating to policing, prisons and probation. This
should fall to around 10 million a year in the next CSR period.
Baselines will need to be sufficient to meet these pressures. In
addition 30 million in unallocated EYF and underspends generated in
future years will be available to meet pressures.

* Prior to devolution the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the
head of the PSNI will agree on how front-line policing is protected
while ensuring the greatest efficiency.

* Hearing Loss. The Northern Ireland Executive will meet the first 12m of
claims in any one year. Any sums incurred above that will be met through
access to the reserve, based on annual agreement between the Northern
Ireland Executive and HM Treasury on the litigation strategy. To assist
the Northern Ireland Executive to meet the expected 12m a year pressure,
the Treasury will be prepared to acquire from the Northern Ireland
Executive sellable assets worth up to 12 million a year for five years,
or 60 million in total. HM Treasury and Northern Ireland Executive will
need to agree on the valuation methodology.

I believe that this is a very strong settlement which will ensure that
all the people of Northern Ireland continue to have high quality
policing and justice services.

Section 2 Parades

1. The Parades Commission is tasked with regulating and adjudicating
on parading. We are committed to a new and improved framework fashioned
by all stakeholders and maximising cross community support.

2. The First Minister and deputy First Minister have agreed to set up
a co-chaired working group comprising six members, appointed by them,
with experience of dealing with parading issues which will bring forward
agreed outcomes which they believe are capable of achieving cross
community support for the new and improved framework. This work will
begin immediately and will be completed within three weeks.

3. We recognise that support from all sides of the community has the
potential to create a new improved framework for the management and
regulation of public assemblies including parades and related protests.
We believe that such a framework should reflect the key principles of:

* Local people providing local solutions;

* Respect for the rights of those who parade, and respect for the rights
of those who live in areas through which they seek to parade. This
includes the right for everyone to be free from sectarian harassment;

* Recognising that at times there are competing rights;

* Transparency, openness and fairness;

* Independent decision making.

4. The working group has been tasked to take forward work in the following
areas, building on the interim report of the Strategic Review of
Parading. This will inform the public consultation, as part of the
schedule, as set out in the timetable below:

* Procedures relating to the receipt and notification of parades and
assemblies; objections relating to them; necessary actions arising from
the lodging of objections; and the facilitation of dialogue and

* In the event of the failure of mediation, recourse to independent
adjudications and procedures;

* Adjudication arrangements comprising an
appropriate mix of lay and legal expertise with sufficient resources to
operate effectively and efficiently;

* A code of conduct which is legally enforceable;

* The right of citizens to freedom from all forms of harassment.

5. The working group by agreement may add to the above points.

6. The First Minister and deputy First Minister will promote and
support the agreed outcomes of the working group.

7. We recognise that any improved regulatory framework must be
capable of maximising cross community support.

8. Following the completion of the consultation process a Bill will
be finalised.

9. The First Minister and deputy First Minister will support all
necessary steps in the Assembly to ensure that the Bill completes all
stages before the end of 2010. In parallel the First Minister and deputy
First Minister will take the necessary steps to enable the
reclassification of parades as a transferred matter.

10. Where there is a need, support will be provided to help local
communities and those who parade to find local solutions to contentious
parades and related protests. This will encourage local accommodation
and will take account of lessons to be learnt from successful local
models. It is envisaged that in the case of the most difficult
situations, additional ongoing support will be provided to encourage
resolution of contention.

11. We will promote and support direct dialogue with, and the
involvement of, representatives of the Loyal Orders, band parade
organisers, local residents groups and other stakeholders, as this work
is advanced. We will also encourage the participation of local elected
representatives in the process of resolution. This work will start as
soon as possible.

12. The current adjudication mechanism of the Parades Commission will
continue until the new improved arrangements are in place.

Parading – Timetable

Assumes maximum priority in Assembly at all stages

FM/dFM appoint working group – 8 February

Working group begins work – 9 February

Working group completes work and reports on agreed outcomes to FM/dFM –
By 23 February

Commencement of the drafting of Bill to implement working group agreed
outcomes (working group to assist during drafting process to confirm
Bill delivers agreed outcomes) – End w/c 22 Feb

Draft Bill completed – Late March

Assembly assumes responsibility for the parades legislation – Late
March/early April

Draft Bill published for consultation – Late March/early April

Completion of consultation – w/c 8 June Consideration of consultation
responses and finalise Bill – w/c 15 June

Executive approves introduction of Bill in September – w/c 29 June

Assembly summer recess (assuming returns on 6 September)

Text of Bill submitted to Speaker and Speaker fulfils all formal
requirements to legislate in the Assembly – w/c 6 September

Bill introduced (at least 7 working days after submission to Speaker) –
w/c 13 September

Second stage – w/c 20 September

Committee Stage (30 working days under SO33 can be shortened with
accelerated passage) – w/c 27 September

Halloween Recess 1 week

Consideration Stage – w/c 15 November

Further Consideration Stage – w/c 22 November

Final Stage – w/c 29 November

Bill submitted for Royal Assent – w/c 6 December

Royal Assent (if urgency procedure can be invoked under s.15(3) of 1998
Act) – w/c 13 December

Section 3 Improving Executive Function and Delivery

1. Party papers have been exchanged during the Talks at Hillsborough
Castle making suggestions on how the Executive might function better and
how delivery might be improved.

2. The First Minister and deputy First Minister will seek approval
from the Executive to set up a Working Group to consider all proposed
arrangements and make recommendations.

3. The Working Group, which would comprise representatives from all
parties on the Executive, should consider any proposals and make
recommendations to the Executive for new and improved processes. Sir Reg
Empey and Margaret Ritchie will be asked to co-chair this Working Group
and to commence their work by the end of February.

Section 4 Outstanding Executive Business

1. Junior Ministers will chair a Working Group involving all of the
Parties in the Executive and oversee an exercise of trawling for and
identifying all Executive papers and decisions which are still pending.
They will be tasked to provide a report to the Executive detailing the
level of progress made on each outstanding matter and Junior Ministers
will make recommendations on whether and how progress could be made on
any and all outstanding matters by the end of February. This will
include a programme of work detailing how any remaining outstanding
issues will be resolved.

Section 5 Outstanding Issues from St Andrews

1. The First Minister and deputy First Minister will oversee an
exercise of examining the St Andrews Agreement and identifying all
matters contained within it 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.

2. The First Minister and deputy First Minister will seek approval
from the Executive to set up a Working Group to make recommendations on
how progress could be made on those matters which have not been
actioned. Junior Ministers will be asked to chair this Working Group and
make an initial report by the end of March.

3. Within four weeks of the Working Groups initial report the First
Minister and deputy First Minister will agree a programme to effect
completion of the agreed conclusions of the Working Group.

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