The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Shaun Woodward, turned up to speak at the Mitchell Conference at Queen’s University. The Conference was another celebratory /anniversary event for the Good Friday Agreement ten years on. Strangely Mr. Woodward, who has for months been telling anyone who would listen that policing and devolution must be resolved by the end of May, had nothing to say on the subject at an event marking the beginning of the devolutionary process.
It seems reality had finally dawned on Mr Woodward – the UK Government has no means of forcing the pace on this issue. Regardless of what Mr Blair or other members of the Labour government had perhaps promised to Sinn Féin, the end of May date was a guideline not a deadline. With the DUP adamantly opposed to the idea it was bizarre that Mr Woodward seemed to be investing so much political capital in something that appeared so unlikely to happen.
Mr Woodward instead decided to talk tough about the need for Loyalist paramilitaries to hurry up and decommission their weapons. Was this to deflect attention from the fact that there is only one week of May left?