Looks like the heat is being turned on the UUP – this time by the Americans.
First came this piece in the New York Times:
It would be irresponsible and tragic if political leaders allow rivalries — or efforts at intimidation — to derail their chances for peace and stability.
Then came the Clinton phonecall:
“She’s obviously very anxious to see a successful resolution but I explained the situation we faced. She was very pleasant and helpful and I think she understands our view that we should have been more involved (in the Hillsborough talks).”
In a sign of deep unease in Washington at the Tories’ electoral pact with the UUP, a bipartisan group of US Congress members have demanded Cameron must “aggressively” encourage his partners to endorse the deal in a vote in the Northern Ireland assembly on Tuesday.
The latter route would seem to be closed off. Cameron told the UUP conference in December 2008 that:
In all the areas that are devolved to Stormont, Ulster Unionist Ministers will continue to deliver better services for local people depending on local priorities.
There is no question of me seeking to impose ideas from London.
One would imagine that this commitment must include decisions on devolving P&J powers.
Are the UUP committing Northern Ireland to a bleaker future and souring relationships for their electoral allies? Or are they right to resist this pressure?