May deadline for justice devolution is fantasy…

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey will be telling Inside Politics (Radio Ulster 12.45pm) how the Dromore by-election will have an effect on the devolution of policing and justice. While the May date always seemed another of these ‘targets’ that there was no real chance of meeting, the DUP can now do exactly what Sinn Fein used to do to good effect in negotiations – and claim that the need to ‘keep their people on board’ while hardliners or dissidents are in a position to exercise influence outweighs the need to move forward quickly. Naturally, the Government will accept that there will be a certain amount of ‘slippage’ – it gave SF time when it needed it in the past, and the now-sanitised party in no longer in any position to issue threats.