27/11/2009

Heated Words Cloud North's Justice Transfer

DUP leader Peter Robinson has censured Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness over what he claimed were failures to progress the devolution of policing and justice powers to the North's Assembly.

However, Mr McGuinness dismissed the Stormont First Minister's criticism as as "a fabrication".

According to Mr Robinson, the Deputy First Minister has done little to resolve outstanding issues.

Sinn Féin accused the DUP of failing to stand over commitments made under the St Andrew's Agreement.

The largest republican party at Stormont said Democratic Unionists were playing games, insisting Sinn Féin representatives are prepared to meet with Mr Robinson's officials.

Mr McGuinness said failure to agree a timeframe for the transfer of justice powers to the Assembly before Christmas would create "a very serious situation".

The First and Deputy First Ministers held separate talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Downing Street yesterday.

The DUP has attempted to attach parades issues to its preconditions for policing and justice devolution.

Sinn Féin said it was "absolutely preposterous" to link the issues, and "for Mr Robinson to lobby on behalf of the Orange Order".

Mr McGuinness called on the British and Irish governments to apply more pressure on the DUP.

He accused his political opponents of being in default of the St Andrew's Agreement, which cemented devolution in 2007.

Sinn Féin wants the transfer of powers to be completed as soon as possible.

DUP members have insisted community confidence in the new institutions is vital before a Northern Ireland justice ministry can be established.

(PR/BMcC)

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