“an opinion poll conducted for the government..”

Reports today of “an opinion poll conducted for the government” [The NIO? – Ed] on the public’s views of devolving policing and justice powers are noteable as much for the timing as for Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey’s welcome of the apparent figures, although his statement doesn’t actually quote them.

Overall 60% of the people surveyed supported the transfer of power and 53% backed the May deadline. [target date]

But it’s also worth comparing today’s reported figures to previous opinion polls, as in the Belfast Telegraph in August 2007.

In an Ipsos MORI poll for this newspaper in March, a majority – 58% – were in favour of policing and justice powers being devolved, with just over a third opposing. That figure is now rising – with 73% overall in favour.

And as I’ve mentioned before

Imposing those powers against the wishes of the Assembly would be a “constitutional nonsense” – and, importantly, “it is not the intention—nor is the power available to the Government—to do that.”

Updated Below the foldAdds It was apparently commissioned by the NIO.

“While an opinion poll is not a science..”


Mark Devenport has interviewed Northern Ireland Secretary of State for Northenr Ireland for Inside Politics tomorrow.. which may explain where he gets these ‘alternative’ figures from

The NIO has just published a poll it commissioned suggesting 60% of people support the devolution of justice and 62% think the May target date is either about right or not soon enough.

Given that that would mean more people supporting a target date than are supporting the actual devolving of powers, and that everyone else is quoting that overall support for devolving those powers by May 2008 at just 53%..

I’ve suggest in the comments zone that there may be some mistake..

Final Update As strange as it may seem, Mark has his figures correct – as this update shows.

The update also reveals that according to one set of figures in the poll, support for devolving policing and justice powers, at some point, has dropped within the DUP by 8 points, within the UUP by 4 points and within the Alliance Party by 3 points. According to one set of figures in the poll that is..

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  • JD

    The main rational for unionists for not accepting the May transfer date was that public opinion was not in favour of it, and previous more negative polls were widely quoted by DUP politicians as evidence. They cannot have their cake and eat it, this poll shows that the population of the north are ready and a vast majority are in favour of transfer of these powers.

  • PeaceandJustice

    The issue ‘JD’ is having confidence that Sinn Fein PIRA have put their old ways behind them and are now behaving themselves. Such confidence does not exist within the Unionist community and is not helped by people like SF PIRA Minister Murphy after the Quinn murder. The idea of having murderers like Junior Minister Kelly (Old Bailey bomb) involved in justice is sick to say the least. Also the SF PIRA terrorist council still exists which is another roadblock to any transfer of powers.

    However, given that the DUP have betrayed victims recently by putting the actions of the state on the same level as terrorist actions, perhaps they will also do a U-turn on this one as well.

  • JD

    PJ you are wrong. This poll shows that confidence does exist in the unionist community, that is the point, never mind the retoric, the figures speak for themselves. Unionists were asked do feel policing and justice should be transferred in May and a majority said yes. Unionist politicians and commentators need to deal with that fact.

  • JD,

    There’s the little problem of last year’s Assembly election. If it were subject to direct plebescite, you’d have an unassailable case. But the Unionist electorate put the DUP in a decisive possition, and devolution on P7J tightly behind the eight ball.

  • JD

    Many things have changed since last years Assembly elections, I think DUP supporters would agree. However if a plebescite is required on this issue then so be it and lets dispence with spurrious arguements about ‘our’ community does not have the confidence.

  • Pete Baker


    On the figures available that case doesn’t appear to be ‘unassailable’ at all.

    In August the Belfast Telegraph reported that 73% supported devolving policing and justice powers at some point.

    The figures reported today are

    Overall 60% of the people surveyed supported the transfer of power [at some point] and 53% backed the May deadline. [target date]

    Is that why Alex Maskey didn’t quote any figures?

  • Blooper

    Reminiscent of all those NIO polls that used to show the Ulster Unionists were on course for great election victories or a majority supporting the pro-GFA Unionist position. Spin.

  • Mark McGregor

    NIO polls, they always show exactly what the NIO want and are so accurate that we live in UUP/SDLP/APNI utopia with the DUP & SF kicked in to touch. Anyone ever actually been polled in one of these NIO polls?

    NIO and NILT polls are the two most worthless set of consistently wrong ‘statistics’ available.

  • JD

    I agree that the NIO is a very dubious source, however if this poll had of given a different result then alot of the current complainants may be making different comments.

  • Mark McGregor


    I have consistently been sceptical of both NIO and NILT polls.

    The more obvious question to me, is just when did SF start accepting them as legitimate.

  • JD

    I am not speaking for Sinn Fein and have already stated that the NIO is not regarded by me as a credible source, however unionists do and they have consistantly used previous polls as evidence for their resistance to change, they cannot have it both ways.

  • DC

    Here’s the catch, there is probably more support for the devolution of policing and justice to happen tham that of the current dismantling of the education system by minister in a department the DUP left aside.

    Even still the reality is that the express wishes of the people to govern themselves is being refused over lack of confidence but this would appear to be party-political confidence.

    It would seem unionists aren’t able to enter into a dialogic environment and prefer show-pieces than the substance of conversation which should tie down appropriate conditions and timescales as a result of negotiating. This could be put before Northern Ireland as proof of work undertaken to resolve this mess while being transparent.

    To date all we have is the Big Doc saying no once more, but attitudes may suggest he should get on with it. How far have the DUP gone with it?

  • Mark Mcgregor


    Sorry, Your comment on ‘current complainants’ came directly after mine so I assumed it was directed at me.

    My point on acceptance by SF is a mirror image of your comment on Unionism btw. If you have a problem with Unionism’s response surely you have the same problem with SF’s road to Damascus conversion on NIO survey legitimacy?