Maurice Hayes: Policing agreement in North hangs on Robinson's fate
That nerves are beginning to fray at governmental level in the North is clearly demonstrated by the odd intervention of Secretary of State Shaun Woodward in asking the Northern parties not to allow the fall-out from Peter Robinson's domestic difficulties to get in the way of business in the Assembly. The business he has in mind is the devolution of responsibility for policing to the Assembly. His message is clearly directed at Robinson's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) colleagues.
Apart from the fact that they do not like being lectured by a British minister, the people most likely to be critical of Robinson within the DUP are also those most opposed to the devolution of policing. Woodward's appeal is hardly likely to change their minds.
At one level it seems odd that a British government minister, in the present climate, should be exhorting members to disregard the implications of codes of conduct and the restrictive application of rules and regulations in pursuit of the greater political good of preserving and stabilising the power-sharing arrangements.