Historic Sinn Fein meeting with police chief
Historic Sinn Fein meeting with police chief

Sinn Féin has described its historic first ever meeting with the chief of the British police in the North, Hugh Orde, as “useful”.

Mr Adams told reporters after a party delegation held lengthy talks with Mr Orde in London that “good work” had been done at the meeting. he said that he had agreed to meet the PSNI chief to discuss the “hugely important” issue of the “demilitarisation of republican heartlands”.

At the same time Mr Adams said he and Mr Orde had not discussed the wider policing issues.

Mr Orde was also in a positive mood after yesterday’s meeting. He said: “We discussed security normalisation and policing. The fact that the meeting happened is very significant.

“It is the first time I have met Mr Adams and it was an opportunity to explain about policing and how we have moved on.”

Nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the meeting between Mr Adams and Mr Orde was well overdue but was in danger of being “overblown”

Mr Durkan said everyone knew that Sinn Féin have to adjust its position on policing and that this meeting was a part of that journey.

“I hope that now that the Sinn Féin leadership is meeting with the PSNI, they will instruct their activists on the ground to stop heckling those in the community who engage with the police service on a day-to-day basis,” Mr Durkan said.

In the event of a deal between Sinn Féin and the DUP, questions remain over the timescale for the devolution of policing powers.

The DUP has been claiming to reporters that under the proposals put forward by the British and irish governments last week, it has an effective veto over such an event. It is understood that Sinn Féin has been seeking to pin down a timetable for devolution of policing and justice powers to a restored Belfast administration.

One projected timetable points to the creation of a new Six County policing and justice ministry in the early part of 2006.

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