In a show of hands, a specially convened Sinn Féin ardfheis (party conference) has voted strongly in favour of a leadership motion expressing support for the PSNI police.
A lengthy six hour debate was dramatically cut short as the leadership forced a vote which will see the party move to take its place on policing bodies in the North in the event of power-sharing returning.
Speaking moments after the vote was taken, party President Gerry Adams described the decision as “truly historic” and said the potential had been created to change the political landscape of the island “forever.”
“Its significance will be how we use this decision to move our struggle forward,” Mr Adams said. Adams called on the unionist community to respond positively to today’s decision, saying there was a need for “an historic compromise” between the communities and for “a real dialogue - an anti-sectarian dialogue between nationalism, republicanism and unionism.”
Mr Adams described the yes vote as “one of the most important decisions in the recent history of our country.” He told the ardfheis: “The decision we have reached is truly historic. We can use this decision to advance our struggle.
He added: “I am confirmed in my confidence that Sinn Féin has the talent, vision, determination and ability to build a new Ireland.”
The 26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern welcomed the decision, while British Prime Minister Tony Blair described it as “historic” and said he recognises the leadership it has taken to get to this point.
DUP leader Ian Paisley said his party had forced republicans to recognise the rule of law in the North of Ireland, and said the time for “true and visible” Sinn Féin support for policing had arrived.
“The DUP has forced Sinn Féin to recognise support for the police and the rule of law as an issue of paramount importance for which there can be no other way,” he said.
“Sinn Féin must now walk this road. No post-dated action can take the place of real delivery. The postponements must come to an end.”