Politicians must show courage and leadership and set the date for the transfer of policing and justice powers, Secretary of State Shaun Woodward MP has said.
Speaking at the Mitchell Conference at Queen’s University Belfast, Secretary Woodward also said that bodies like the IICD and IMC could not continue indefinitely.
Shaun Woodward said, “Politicians must set the date to see the transfer of policing and justice from me, the secretary of State to a Justice minister, elected here in Northern Ireland.
“The first stage of devolution has been successfully transferred with the executive assuming responsibility for health, transport, social development, housing and education.
“What remains is to complete stage two. The British government pledged in the St Andrews Agreement we would be ready to transfer powers one year after the new Assembly was elected.
“We have kept that promise. So now this is a matter for the politicians here to reach agreement between themselves.
“It is about confidence but like every step that has been taken along the way to St Andrews, it will be through leadership that the difference will be made.”
On the future of the IICD and IMC, Shaun Woodward said, “I don’t see them being wound up next week or even next month. But it is not a matter of years and years.
“As for those who still retain their weapons, take very careful note of what I am saying. These structures are now time limited, they are not here forever.
“This train too is leaving the station, the question is whether these organizations want to be on board or be left behind in the past.
“Legal routes to decommissioning and the protection that comes with it will go, sooner rather than later.
“What the people are clearly saying, whether on the Provisional Army Council or loyalist groups retaining arms, is that they have no place in a Northern Ireland moving towards normality.”