Statement by Peter Robinson (DUP) about the Agreement on the devolution of policing and justice powers, (5 February 2010)
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Statement by Peter Robinson, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Paty (DUP), about the Agreement on the devolution of policing and justice powers, Belfast, (5 February 2010)
"This is a good day for Northern Ireland. The agreement we have reached today secures the progress that we have made in recent years and keeps Northern Ireland moving forward to a better future.
No future generation would forgive us for squandering the peace that has been so long fought for. Today’s agreement is the surest sign that there will be no going back to the past.
I believe that we have taken a considerable step to secure the prize of a stable and peaceful Northern Ireland. With this agreement I believe that we have laid the foundations for a better future for us all.
Too often we can forget how far we have come in recent years. Today we take for granted the progress that we have made and the relative peace that we have secured. But we can not be complacent.
No sane person wants to go back to the carnage and violence that we have endured for the last generation.
In the next few weeks we will take this agreement to the people of Northern Ireland. We will ask the to endorse the agreement that has been reached today and to take a considerable step forward.
With the necessary community confidence and the faithful implementation of this agreement we will move to agree the devolution of policing and justice on 9th March.
This agreement provides for the completion of devolution and a new start for parading. It will mean a new start for Executive business and a refocusing on the issues that matter to the people of Northern Ireland. And it will mean that the police will have the resources to deal with the challenges that they face.
For too long we have been distracted and diverted by the issue of Policing and Justice. Today is the not just the end of one phase but the beginning of another where we must work to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.
I do not pretend that this agreement has been easy to reach. Compromises did not come quickly or easily. It has been hard fought on all sides but will be all the more secure for the time that has been invested in it.
Politics is not a spectator sport. This has not been a pretty process. But through the last few weeks the real story is that this is a sign of politics working.
We have faced many difficulties and challenges but this agreement is the surest sign that we are not going back to the bad old days of the past.
Sometimes through painful experience we have learnt many lessons over the last few years. There are some who will play politics with this agreement; that is understandable but the real focus in the months to come must be to build an administration at Stormont that all can identify with and support.
I think that I can speak with some certainty when I say that in coming to this agreement we have not been rushed. I am grateful for the role that the Prime Minister and Secretary of State have played in recent weeks. I am also grateful for the contribution that the Taiseach and the Irish Foreign Minister have played.
This negotiation has been a marathon not a sprint. But I believe that the agreement will be more enduring and secure because of it. I also believe that it is stronger because it has been made in Ulster. While we have had assistance from outside it is local people that made this agreement and will make it work.
We have tested the endurance of the Governments over the last few weeks and once or twice we may have tested their patience as well.
It is almost forty years since the people of Northern Ireland had responsibility for our own policing and justice powers. This agreement provides the potential that in just a few months time we will once again take responsibility for these key powers. This agreement ensures that as a society we continue to move forward to a better future.
I believe that this agreement lays the foundation for a better future for everyone in Northern Ireland and will secure the Assembly for decades to come."
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