“this is a power for which the Scots have been craving…”

So David touched on an intriguing ‘argument’ between Sinn Fein and the SDLP over the former’s use of the Legislative Consent Motion in such a way as to nullify any discussion of the proposed bill (an indigenous deal let us remember) at Assembly and in Westminster.

This is effectively a measure constructed in OFMdFM and sent straight via DSD, to an Order in Council in Westminster and presumably on to the Queen for approval. Beyond the two parties in Stormont Castle, it will receive no secondary scrutiny.

So far so good. Then watching Stormont Today last night, Professor Rick Wilford crystalised an niggling doubt I’ve had since Tuesday evening when he pointed out that OFMdFM has effectively handed back power over Welfare to Westminster.

Of course, not for good. It is due to return in December next year once the Tories have implemented a deal which to all intents and purposes has been jointly structured by Sinn Fein and the DUP.

Along with tampering with Standing Orders so that there could be no vote in Stormont, it appears to be something of an a priori forensic clean up so that no one can look back at the record and figure that Sinn Fein had anything to do with this deal.

Pretty cynical you might say to even think that? But I’m struggling to get an answer out of anyone in Sinn Fein that would suggest anything different. It’s odd behaviour for a party still committed to abstentionism at Westminster, and to bringing power back to the island.

Except that is, perhaps, when to take such responsibility so might do damage to them politically? It’s hardly surprising that the SDLP wants to make an issue of this one. Clear, green, water.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

Living History 1968-74

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