Woodward – redux

Fair Deal has picked up on the first point in Frank Millar’s article in the Irish Times. But the second is also worth highlighting – for those not paying attention.

At Westminster yesterday, Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward explicitly accepted the DUP’s analysis that the St Andrews Agreement does not commit the party to the timetable originally proposed by the British and Irish governments for the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Stormont Assembly.

At the same time Mr Woodward insisted it was “an article of faith” in the St Andrews Agreement that the completion of the devolution process should follow on from Sinn Féin’s endorsement of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Mr Woodward also noticeably failed to answer when asked by his Conservative shadow Owen Paterson for an assurance that, in the continued absence of agreement between the parties, he (Woodward) would not bring forward legislation “to impose it on one section of the community”.

Of course, to do so would be a “constitutional nonsense”.. And, as Shaun Woodward said previously, “It is for the parties to decide when the time is right..”