News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

October 13, 2006

Text of the Agreement at St Andrews


Over the past three days in St Andrews we have engaged
intensively with the Northern Ireland political parties
with a view to achieving the goal we set in Armagh in
April, which is shared by all the parties and the
overwhelming majority of people in Northern Ireland: the
restoration of the political institutions. We believe that
the transformation brought about by the ending of the IRA's
campaign provides the basis for a political settlement.

2. Our discussions have been focused on achieving full and
effective operation of the political institutions. When we
arrived in Scotland a limited number of outstanding issues
remained to be resolved, including support for and
devolution of policing and the criminal justice system,
changes to the operation of the Agreement institutions, and
certain other matters raised by the parties or flowing from
the Preparation for Government Committee. The two
Governments now believe that the agreement we are
publishing today clears the way to restoration.

Power sharing and the political institutions

3. Both Governments remain fully committed to the
fundamental principles of the Agreement: consent for
constitutional change, commitment to exclusively peaceful
and democratic means, stable inclusive partnership
government, a balanced institutional accommodation of the
key relationships within Northern Ireland, between North
and South and within these islands, and for equality and
human rights at the heart of the new dispensation in
Northern Ireland. All parties to this agreement need to be
wholeheartedly and publicly committed, in good faith and in
a spirit of genuine partnership, to the full operation of
stable power-sharing Government and the North-South and
East-West arrangements.

4. Following discussion with all the parties, we have made
an assessment of practical changes to the operation of the
institutions and we are publishing today a clear outline of
these. The British Government will introduce legislation in
Parliament before the statutory November deadline to enact
these changes, once parties have endorsed the agreement and
agreed definitively to restore the power sharing
institutions. Details of these changes are set out in Annex

Policing and the rule of law

5. We have consistently said that support for policing and
the rule of law should be extended to every part of the
community. We believe that all the parties share this
objective. Notwithstanding the right of every political
party to hold the police to account, we believe that there
are fundamental principles of support for the police and
the courts which underpin any democratic society.

6. We believe that the essential elements of support for
law and order include endorsing fully the Police Service of
Northern Ireland and the criminal justice system, actively
encouraging everyone in the community to co-operate fully
with the PSNI in tackling crime in all areas and actively
supporting all the policing and criminal justice
institutions, including the Policing Board.

7. Discussions on the devolution of policing and justice
have progressed well in the Preparation for Government
Committee. The Governments have requested the parties to
continue these discussions so as to agree the necessary
administrative arrangements to create a new policing and
justice department. It is our view that implementation of
the agreement published today should be sufficient to build
the community confidence necessary for the Assembly to
request the devolution of criminal justice and policing
from the British Government by May 2008.

Human Rights, Equality, Victims and other issues

8. Both Governments have also discussed other matters
raised by the parties. Some of these relate to the final
implementation of the Agreement and others have been raised
in the context of the Preparation for Government Committee.
The British Government has also agreed to take forward a
number of measures to build confidence in both communities
and to pursue a shared future for Northern Ireland in which
the culture, rights and aspirations of all are respected
and valued, free from sectarianism, racism and intolerance.
Details of all these issues are set out in Annex B.

Financial package for the newly restored Executive

9. The Governments are also committed to working with the
parties to establish the most favourable possible financial
climate for a newly restored Executive. The Chancellor of
the Exchequer and the Minister for Finance will meet
delegations from the First and Deputy First Minister to
take this forward. Details of how this might be achieved
are set out in Annex C.


10. We believe that all parties should be able to endorse
this agreement and to implement it in good faith, building
the trust and confidence necessary for a stable and lasting
settlement. We have set out a fixed timetable for the
implementation of this agreement in Annex D and have asked
parties, having consulted their members, to confirm their
acceptance by 10 November. Following endorsement of the St
Andrews agreement by the parties the Assembly will meet to
nominate the First and Deputy First Minister on 24
November. Between that date and restoration of the
Executive on 26 March the new Programme for Government
Committee will agree all the necessary arrangements
relating to ministerial responsibilities, ensuring that
d'Hondt can be run and the Executive can operate

11. Verification and compliance mechanisms relating to the
Assembly already exist, as set out in the agreement between
the Governments published in May 2003 and in the Belfast
Agreement. The Prime Minister and the Taoiseach are
determined that default by any one of the parties following
restoration of the Executive should not be allowed to delay
or hinder political progress in Northern Ireland.

12. The Governments have made clear that in the event of
failure to reach agreement by the 24 November we will
proceed on the basis of the new British Irish partnership
arrangements to implement the Belfast Agreement.

13. It is clear to us that all the parties wish to see
devolution restored. It is also clear to us that all
parties wish to support policing and the rule of law. We
hope they will seize this opportunity for bringing the
political process in Northern Ireland to completion and
establishing power-sharing government for the benefit of
the whole community.



1. Following discussion with all the parties in the
Preparation for Government Committee and here at St
Andrews, we are proposing practical changes to the
operation of the institutions of the Agreement in the
interests of efficiency and fairness, as envisaged by the
Agreement itself. We believe the changes will enable all
the institutions to operate in an effective and stable
manner, with all parties engaging in good faith and in a
spirit of genuine partnership.

Strand 1 Issues

2. A statutory ministerial Code. An amendment to the
Northern Ireland Act 1998 would provide for a statutory
ministerial Code, and place a duty upon Ministers
(including junior Ministers), notwithstanding their
executive authority in their areas of responsibility as
defined in the Agreement, to act in accordance with the
provisions on ministerial accountability of the Code. The
Code would reflect a requirement for safeguards to ensure
that all sections of the community could participate and
work together successfully in the operation of these
institutions and that all sections of the community were
protected. There would be arrangements to ensure that,
where a decision of the Executive could not be achieved by
consensus and a vote was required, any three members of the
Executive could require it to be taken on a cross-community

3. The 1998 Act would be amended to require inclusion in
the Code of agreed provisions in relation to ministerial
accountability. Consistent with paragraphs 19 and 20 of the
Agreement, this would provide for the Executive to be the
forum for:

(i) the discussion of, and agreement on, issues which cut
across the responsibilities of two or more Ministers,
including in particular those that are the responsibility
of the Minister of Finance and Personnel.

(ii) prioritising executive proposals;

(iii) prioritising legislative proposals;

(iv) recommending a common position where necessary – for
instance, on matters which concern the response of the
Northern Ireland administration to external relationships;

(v) agreement each year on (and review as necessary of) a
programme incorporating an agreed budget linked to policies
and programmes (Programme for Government).

4. The Code will also provide for the discussion of and
agreement on any issue which is significant or
controversial and:

(a) clearly outside the scope of the agreed Programme for
Government or

(b) which the First Minister and Deputy First Minister
agree should be brought to the Executive.

5. The new Code would be discussed by the parties and
agreed by the Executive when formed. The First Minister and
Deputy First Minister would propose the Code to the
Assembly. It would have effect once endorsed by cross-
community support there. Any amendments to the Code would
require cross-community support in the Assembly.

6. Assembly referrals for Executive review. An amendment to
the 1998 Act would provide for referrals from the Assembly
to the Executive of important ministerial decisions. Thirty
members of the Assembly might initiate such a referral,
within seven days of a ministerial decision or notification
of the decision where appropriate. Before he could pass the
referral to the Executive, the Presiding Officer, following
consultation with the parties in the Assembly, would be
required to certify that it concerned an issue of public
importance. The Executive would consider the issue within
seven days. A second referral could not be made by the
Assembly in respect of the same matter. Only matters
covered by the Ministerial Code, as set out above, would
require a collective decision by the Executive.

7. Reflecting the Pledge of Office, Ministers would be
required to act in accordance with any relevant decisions
of the Executive and/or Assembly.

8. Amendments to the Pledge of Office. The Pledge of Office
would require that Ministers would participate fully in the
Executive and NSMC/BIC, and would observe the joint nature
of the office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister.
Before the Government legislates on the

pledge of office it will consider the outcome of further
Preparation for Government Committee discussions on
policing and the rule of law.

9. Appointment of Ministers in the Executive. An amendment
would be made to the 1998 Act on appointment of Ministers
in the Executive. The Nominating Officer of the largest
party in the largest designation in the Assembly shall make
a nomination to the Assembly Presiding Officer for the post
of First Minister. The Nominating Officer of the largest
party in the second largest designation in the Assembly
shall similarly nominate for the post of Deputy First
Minister. The d'Hondt procedure will then run, as already
set out in the 1998 Act, to fill the Ministerial posts in
the Executive. Where a vacancy arose later in the office of
the FM or DFM, the nominating officer(s) of the party(ies)
entitled to nominate as above for the office(s) would do so
and the nominee would take up office once he had taken the
pledge of office. Where a vacancy arose in another
ministerial office, it would be filled as at present. It
will be a matter for the standing Institutional Review
Committee referred to in paragraph 12 to consider whether
the new procedures should continue beyond the life of the
present Assembly.

10. Functions of Office of First Minister and Deputy First
Minister. The First Minister and Deputy First Minister
would reach agreement as to whether any functions of the
current OFMDFM should be transferred to other departments,
and would put proposals to the Executive and Assembly

11. Committee of the Centre. An amendment to the 1998 Act
would provide for the existing Assembly Committee of the
Centre to be placed on a statutory footing like that of
other departmental scrutiny committees.

12. Reviews. An amendment to the 1998 Act would provide for
the Assembly to appoint a standing Institutional Review
Committee, to examine the operational aspects of the Strand
One institutions. Matters to be reviewed in this way would
be agreed among the parties. The Committee's reports would
be considered by the Executive and Assembly, and, where
agreed changes required legislative steps outside the scope
of the devolved institutions, by the British Government in
consultation as appropriate with the Irish Government.

13. The First Minister and Deputy First Minister would
appoint an Efficiency Review Panel, to examine efficiency
and value for money of aspects of the Strand One
institutions. The FM/DFM would put to the Assembly for
approval proposals for the panel's remit, which might
include the size of the Assembly and the departmental
structure. The Panel would take into account as appropriate
the work of the Review of Public Administration. The
Panel's report would be considered by the Executive and
Assembly, and, where agreed changes required legislative
steps outside the scope of the devolved institutions, by
the British Government in consultation as appropriate with
the Irish Government.

14. Repeal of the Northern Ireland Act 2000. The Northern
Ireland Act 2006 provides for the automatic repeal of the
Northern Ireland Act 2000 if the Assembly is restored by
the date set out in that Act. The Government remains
committed to the repeal of the Northern Ireland Act 2000 on
the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland.

15. Community designation. An amendment to the 1998 Act
would provide that an Assembly Member would not be able to
change community designation for the whole of an Assembly
term except in the case of a change of membership of
political party.

Strands Two and Three issues

16. Executive role in preparation for NSMC and BIC
meetings. The amendment to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 on
a ministerial Code, described in the British Government's
Strand One proposals, would bear on Executive proceedings
relating to the North-South Ministerial Council and
British-Irish Council.

17. The Code would provide that draft NSMC and BIC decision
papers would be circulated to all Executive members within
a period (to be decided by the Executive) in advance of a
scheduled NSMC or BIC meeting. Any member of the Executive
would have the right to seek an Executive discussion on
such a paper. Notwithstanding the lead Minister's executive
authority in his/her area of responsibility as defined in
the Agreement, where the Code provided that certain matters
should be considered/agreed in the Executive Committee (see
paragraphs 3 to 5 of the British Government's Strand One
proposals), this would apply to any draft NSMC/BIC decision
papers falling within those agreed provisions.

18. Attendance at NSMC and BIC. Amendments to the 1998 Act
would provide for a minister with lead departmental
interest in an issue under consideration at an NSMC/BIC
meeting to be entitled to attend (with a power for a
minister so entitled, by consent, to arrange for another
minister attending to discharge his/her responsibilities),
and a power for the FM/DFM to adjudicate where a Minister's
lead departmental interest was disputed. In the
circumstances where a lead Minister was not proposing to
attend the meeting in question, and had not arranged for a
replacement Minister to discharge his/her responsibilities,
there would also be a statutory obligation on FM/DFM to
nominate a replacement for a lead Minister to attend the
NSMC/BIC and discharge his/her responsibilities. There
would be a statutory power for the FM/DFM to require such
relevant information from the lead department as would be
necessary for the NSMC/BIC meeting in question. Finally,
reflecting the existing requirement for representation of
the Executive on a cross-community basis at meetings of the
NSMC/BIC, there would be a statutory obligation on the
FM/DFM to nominate the other Minister whose presence is
necessary to fulfil that requirement.

19. Review. The Northern Ireland Executive and Irish
Government, under the auspices of the NSMC, would appoint a
Review Group to examine objectively (1) the efficiency and
value for money of existing implementation bodies and (2)
the case for additional bodies and areas of co-operation
within the NSMC where mutual benefit would be derived. The
Group would also input into the work commissioned by the
NSMC in June 2002 on the identification of a suitable
substitute for the proposed Lights Agency of the Foyle,
Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission. The Group would
report with recommendations to the NSMC. Any changes to the
existing arrangements would require the specific
endorsement of the Assembly and Oireachtas. In the
meantime, the NSMC would continue to oversee the ongoing
work of the Implementation Bodies and work in the areas of

20. Assembly/Oireachtas scrutiny of implementation bodies.
Chairs and Chief Executives of North/South bodies, when
called upon and at least yearly, would appear before
relevant Assembly Committees. There is provision in the
South for similar arrangements in relation to the

21. North-South Parliamentary Forum. The Northern Ireland
Executive would encourage the parties in the Assembly to
establish a North-South parliamentary forum bringing
together equal numbers from the Oireachtas and the
Assembly, and operating on an inclusive basis.

22. Independent Consultative Forum. The Northern Ireland
Executive would support the establishment of an independent
North/South consultative forum appointed by the two
Administrations and representative of civil society.

23. Secretariat of British-Irish Council. Following
consultation with its other members, and with a view to
giving further impetus to its work, the two Governments
would facilitate the establishment of a standing
secretariat for the British-Irish Council, if members

24. East-West Inter-parliamentary Framework. Following
appropriate consultation with the British-Irish Inter-
parliamentary Body, the two Governments would encourage the
Oireachtas, the British Parliament and the relevant elected
institutions to approve an East-West Inter-parliamentary
Framework which would embrace all their interests. The
framework would operate on an inclusive basis.

25. If the Preparation for Government Committee wishes to
reconvene to discuss further changes and reaches agreement
by 31 October, the Governments stand ready to implement any
such agreed changes.



The Government will continue to actively promote the
advancement of human rights, equality and mutual respect.
In the pursuit of which we commit to the following:

• In early November, we will publish an Anti-Poverty and
Social Exclusion strategy to tackle deprivation in both
rural and urban communities based on objective need and to
remedy patterns of deprivation. The strategy will build on
the good work of the 'Neighbourhood Renewal' and 'Renewing
Communities' initiatives. This can be taken forward by an
incoming Executive.

• The Government will introduce legislation this autumn to
establish a Victims' Commissioner for Northern Ireland.

• We will establish a forum on a Bill of Rights and convene
its inaugural meeting in December 2006.

• The Government believes in a Single Equality Bill and
will work rapidly to make the necessary preparations so
that legislation can be taken forward by an incoming
Executive at an early date.

• The Government will introduce an Irish Language Act
reflecting on the experience of Wales and Ireland and work
with the incoming Executive to enhance and protect the
development of the Irish language.

• The Government firmly believes in the need to enhance and
develop the Ulster Scots language, heritage and culture and
will support the incoming Executive in taking this forward.

• We have begun consulting with the Parties on terms of
reference for a review which will examine all the issues
around parading in Northern Ireland with a view to
developing an agreed long term strategy.

• The Government will work with business, trade unions and
ex-prisoner groups to produce guidance for employers which
will reduce barriers to employment and enhance re-
integration of former prisoners.

• The 50/50 recruitment arrangements to the PSNI will lapse
when the Patten target for Catholic officers has been

• We will bring forward in the next parliamentary session
legislation to give the Northern Ireland Human Rights
Commission additional powers. These will include the power
to compel evidence, access places of detention and rely on
the Human Rights Act when bringing judicial proceedings in
its own name. We will publish the Government's response to
the consultation carried out on these matters last year,
before 24 November.

• We will bring forward separate legislation before the end
of 2006 to reform entry requirements to ensure access for
EU nationals to posts in the Civil Service.

• During the autumn we will facilitate a meeting of the
Northern Ireland Grand Committee in Northern Ireland.



All of the parties have raised the question of the future
economic progress of Northern Ireland. The Governments are
committed to working with all the parties to establish a
platform for long-term economic stability and reform
necessary for a newly restored Executive. In the context of
restoration of the institutions, the Governments remain
committed to ensuring the Executive has the capacity to
provide quality public services, to continue the process of
necessary reform, to plan for the future, to make the long-
term capital investments to underpin the economic
transformation of Northern Ireland, as well as bringing
long-term benefits for the island as a whole.

In the context of the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending
Review, the Chancellor agrees to meet all parties to
consider proposals – including those from the Assembly
subgroup on economic challenges facing Northern Ireland -
that make the most of new opportunities arising from
greater peace and stability. We will also consider the
potential for further North/South economic cooperation
including proposals for joint investment initiatives. In
the context of preparations for restoration, both
Governments will work with the parties on these issues.

In response to the strongly expressed views of many in the
NI community, the British Government will introduce a cap
on domestic rates under the new capital values system and
will examine the possibility of further rate reliefs for
pensioners on lower incomes.



13 October: Governments publish St Andrews agreement.

Parties consult, including through the DUP Assembly group,
the Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle and other appropriate party
bodies, on the St Andrews agreement, and respond by 10

17 October: New Programme for Government Committee begins
regular meetings to agree priorities for new Executive,
with parties represented at leadership level.

20/21 November: Legislation at Westminster to give effect
to the St Andrews agreement, including practical changes to
the institutions (Annex A).

24 November: Assembly meets to nominate FM/DFM.

January: IMC Report.

March: Endorsement by the electorate of the St Andrews

14 March: Members of the Executive nominated by party

26 March: Power devolved and d'Hondt run.

Failure to agree to establish the Executive will lead to
immediate dissolution of the Assembly, as will failure to
agree at any stage, and the Governments will take forward
new partnership arrangements on the basis previously



Building on the useful discussions that have already taken
place with the parties on the issue, this paper outlines
the arrangements that are being put in place for the
handling of national security intelligence in Northern
Ireland and the accountability measures that will be in
place, once lead responsibility passes to the Security
Service in late 2007.

The change will bring Northern Ireland into line with the
rest of the UK, to provide a consistent and co-ordinated
response to the threat from terrorism, including from
international terrorist groups such as Al Quaeda. It also,
since national security is an excepted matter, prepares the
way for devolution.

The British Government is confident the new arrangements
will bring real benefits to both the Security Service and
the PSNI. A key driver behind the practical arrangements
currently being devised and tested is the unique interface
in NI between national security and serious/organised
crime. The new arrangements preserve and build upon the
Patten reforms: that is a fundamental principle of these

New integrated working arrangements – the first such
approach in the UK - will strengthen the PSNI's criminal
intelligence capability. This is because PSNI officers will
be co-located with Security Service personnel and will work
in a variety of roles including as intelligence
analysts/advisors and for the purpose of translating
intelligence into executive action. These arrangements are
designed precisely for the purpose of ensuring that
intelligence is shared and properly directed within the
PSNI. Integration of personnel in this way is an essential
protection against concerns that some intelligence would
not be visible to the PSNI.

The Security Service has no executive policing
responsibilities, even in countering threats to national
security. While the Security Service will provide the
strategic direction, the PSNI's contribution to countering
terrorism will remain absolutely central. In all
circumstances, including where the interest is national
security related

it will be the role of the PSNI to mount executive policing
operations, make arrests and take forward prosecutions
under the direction of the Public Prosecution Service.

There will be no diminution in police accountability. The
role and responsibilities of the Policing Board and the
Police Ombudsman vis a vis the Police will not change.
Police officers working with the Security Service in
whatever capacity will remain accountable to the Chief
Constable and under the oversight of the Police Ombudsman.
The Security Service and the Ombudsman's office have been
working together to agree arrangements for the Ombudsman's
access to sensitive information held by the Service, where
this becomes necessary for the discharge of the Ombudsman's
statutory duties. The Service has already disclosed
sensitive information to the Ombudsman's office in a number
of cases. It is important to ensure that comprehensive
accountability mechanisms are in place for all aspects of
policing in Northern Ireland, and we will continue to
discuss these matters with the parties.

The Government will publish in due course high level
versions of the MoUs currently being developed between the
Security Service and the PSNI and others, as appropriate

The great majority of national security agents will be run
by the PSNI, under the strategic direction of the Service,
mirroring the arrangements the Service has with the police
in GB. This makes sense in NI in particular because of the
interface between serious crime and national security; the
police also have the advantage of local knowledge. The
Security Service will continue to run directly a small
number of agents who are authorised to obtain information
in the interests of national security as distinct from
countering criminality, where the circumstances make that
appropriate. The principles observed by the PSNI and the
Security Service in running agents are the same, and are
enshrined in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act

The Policing Board will, as now, have the power to require
the Chief Constable to report on any issue pertaining to
his functions or those of the police service. All aspects
of policing will continue to be subject to the same
scrutiny as now. To ensure the Chief Constable can be fully
accountable for the PSNI's policing operations, the
Security Service will participate in briefings to closed
sessions of the

Policing Board to provide appropriate intelligence
background about national security related policing

On policing that touches on national security the Chief
Constable's main accountability will be to the Secretary of
State, as it is now. The Security Service is fully
accountable through existing statutory arrangements and the
due processes of Parliament. In addition, three separate
Commissioners oversee different elements of covert work in
NI: the Intelligence Services Commissioner; the
Interception of Communications Commissioner; and the
Surveillance Commissioner. Relevant complaints relating to
the actions of the intelligence agencies are investigated
by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a panel comprising
senior members of the legal profession. There is also the
Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee whose
remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and
policy of the security and intelligence agencies and whose
reports are placed before Parliament; the Government has
already indicated that it is prepared to consider how the
Northern Ireland focus of the Committee might be

In summary, a whole range of safeguards will continue in
place: the Policing Board's continuing role in ensuring
efficient policing; the safeguards embodied in RIPA; the
Ombudsman's role in investigating complaints against police
officers; Parliament's scrutiny of intelligence matters
through the Intelligence and Security Committee; the
various Commissioners' oversight of particular types of
covert operations; and the Investigatory Powers Tribunal's
remit to deal with complaints. Not only are these
arrangements comprehensive, they are as transparent as the
sensitivity of the issues allows.

Further to reinforce this comprehensive set of safeguards,
the Government confirms that it accepts and will ensure
that effect is given to the five key principles which the
Chief Constable has identified as crucial to the effective
operation of the new arrangements, viz:

a. All Security Service intelligence relating to terrorism
in Northern Ireland will be visible to the PSNI.

b. PSNI will be informed of all Security Service counter
terrorist investigations and operations relating to
Northern Ireland.

c. Security Service intelligence will be disseminated
within PSNI according to the current PSNI dissemination
policy, and using police procedures.

d. The great majority of national security CHISs in
Northern Ireland will continue to be run by PSNI officers
under existing police handling protocols.

e. There will be no diminution of the PSNI's ability to
comply with the HRA or the Policing Board's ability to
monitor said compliance.

In that connection, the Government believes that the
Policing Board's Human Rights advisers should have a role
in human rights proofing the relevant protocols that will
underpin the Chief Constable's five key principles, and
also in confirming that satisfactory arrangements are in
place to implement the principles. The detailed operation
of this safeguard will require further consideration.

As far as the employment of former police officers by the
Security Service under these new arrangements is concerned,
there will be no bar on former officers serving in the new
organisation, but for operational reasons there will be a
need for such individuals to have working experience of the
arrangements under which the PSNI currently operate. The
same rigorous vetting procedures will apply to them as they
do to all new staff joining the service.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?