Shaun Woodward believes that policing and justice might be devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive within 12 months. I suppose he MIGHT be right. In the same speech he stressed the importance of the executive beginning once again to meet. Yet in contrast, on the Politics Show, the Northern Ireland Secretary seemed to suggest the present ‘tense situation’ is not a crisis and that the media have been responsible for exaggerating its import.
For 12 months Northern Ireland’s ‘government’ comprised an optical illusion and now that illusion has been shattered. Executive business has heaped up unresolved throughout the period of devolution and now, thanks to the recalcitrance of Sinn Féin, the executive has stopped meeting entirely.
The Labour government are becoming increasingly desperate to get Gerry Adams’ party out of a hole and to re-animate the Stormont charade. If that is achieved, the carve-up will rumble on, performing its impression of government until the next bout of intractability from Sinn Féin or the DUP.
Until there is an acknowledgment that the present crisis, and it is a crisis, is a symptom of an unworkable system, rather than some initial difficulties, then imaginative solutions will continue to be dismissed and fundamental problems will continue to be ignored. If Woodward has his way the blockage will simply be pushed further down the pipe, rather than being cleared.