“Not a message the NIO press release chose to headline..”

Judging by the paragraph Gonzo referenced in Martin McGuinness’ speech to the party faithful the Deputy First Minister isn’t a fan of Slugger.. what with the talk of deadlines, commitments and the suggestion that central government could impose policing and justice powers on the devolved administration. On 22nd November 2006 I posted this

Unless the government is now going to say that, in circumstances where one of the parties holding those offices [First and deputy First Ministers] do not agree that the confidence within the community exists for the devolving of those powers by March 2008 – they are then going to force through devolving powers on policing and justice by May 2008 whatever happens between now and then, the target date remains only a target date and not a commitment.

And in December 2006, when the UUP produced a letter from the then-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland – a letter which Reg Empey described as “a complete negation of the democratic process” – I made the point again. It took a while but, eventually, the UK government held their hands up on this one – as noted here.

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.”

The only question left is why does only Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister continue to think otherwise?On a more upbeat note, kudos to the BBC’s Jim Fitzpatrick for acknowledging his error last week [scroll down]

Apologies for a mistake in last week’s piece.

I misquoted poll statistics on the devolution of policing and justice.

I gave figures for September 2007 rather than January 2008.

The striking thing, upon realising the mistake, was how support for devolution of policing and justice among DUP voters had fallen over the period.

Not a message the NIO press release chose to headline, but at least their website does offer a link to the full results.

“Not a message the NIO press release chose to headline”.. Indeed.

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