The week outside Westminster

A digest of the week’s politics news from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


• First Minister Peter Robinson has told his party that he cannot guarantee the future of devolution, but that his party will always do what they believe to be right for Northern Ireland.

Plans have been announced for 600 more police to patrol the streets Northern Ireland by next summer, after a week which saw dissidents open fire on police officers and attempted bombing of the police board headquarters.

• Figures out this week have revealed that a third of Assembly members employ family members as part of their staff. It comes after the Kelly Committee called for such practices to be banned in Westminster.


• The UK Government published its plans for devolving greater powers to Holyrood, with a bill due if Labour wins the next election. The Tories made clear they will not be bound by the proposals if they win, the Liberal Democrats questioned why the Government doesn’t implement the plans now, and the Scottish National Party simply concluded that the proposals were “very flimsy”.

• Labour’s Iain Gray decided his party would oppose SNP plans for a minimum price for alcohol, concluding that they would not be effective in the fight against Scotland’s alcohol problem. BMA Scotland said they were “confounded” by the decision, with Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon describing the opposition’s stance as “simply inexcusable”.

• New figures revealed that teacher numbers across Scotland have fallen. SNP Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop admitted that it was “unacceptable”, while opposition parties called for her to be axed from the Cabinet.

• The latest opinion polls indicate support for Scottish independence has decreased.


• Social Affairs Minister Brian Gibbons backed calls for a minimum price for alcohol, much to the disagreement of the British Retail Consortium.

• Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said he would not block a referendum on future powers for Cardiff Bay, but questioned moves for an early vote, given public anger against politicians post expenses.

• Rhodri Morgan and Iuen Wyn Jones made clear their commitment to a referendum.

• Voting for the next Leader of Labour in Wales closed with calls for whoever wins to include both their rivals in the next Cabinet. Results will be known on Tuesday.

Quote of the week

“I cannot guarantee the future of the Assembly but I can guarantee that it will not be the DUP that will walk away”

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson addressing the DUP conference

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