“This train is leaving the station..”

A couple of points to note from the BBC report on Northern Ireland Secretary of State Shaun Woodward’s speech at Queen’s University today. The obvious one is his message to the recently de-specified UVF and, undoubtedly, to Jackie McDonald’s UDA about the Independent International Body on Decommissioning.

“Take very careful note of what I’m saying, these structures are now time-limited, they are not here forever,” he said. “This train is leaving the station, the question is whether these organisations are going to be on board or be left behind in the past. “Legal routes to decommissioning, sooner rather than later, will go.”

Shaun Woodward doesn’t explain what happens then.. perhaps there’ll be fewer handshakes and photo-ops and a greater reluctance on the part of the police to negotiate with “those who have influence”. The second point to note is his comment on the devolution of policing and justice powers

Mr Woodward also said the assembly should set a date for the devolution of policing and justice.

They are the only ones who can, after all. Adds From the Northern Ireland Secretary of State’s statement

“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.”