Tories to save the NIO

It has never really occurred to me that anyone outside the NIO would think the NIO would exist after devolution to Northern Ireland has bedded down. With the Welsh and Scottish Offices doing a minimal amount, surely their Northern Irish counterpart would join them in a single Whitehall department. Owen Patterson seems to think that it is important that Northern Ireland have a dedicated department, although doesn’t seem to fully justify the claim in this report of the interview.