British Direct Ruler Peter Hain has said Sinn Féin will not be forced to publicly back policing in the North as a condition of power-sharing.
Mr Hain said it would be “absolutely essential” for parties in any new power-sharing executive to respect the rule of law. But no extra hurdles would be placed in the path towards reviving the peace process, he told British MPs in London.
However, DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley has said Sinn Féin must endorse the PSNI as part of any power-sharing deal.
At the same time he made clear his view that a Sinn Féin decision to join the North’s Policing Board would not be enough for his party.
“The talks have no future until everyone who’s going to be in the government of Northern Ireland is a complete and total supporter of the police,” he declared.
He denied he was seeking to raise new preconditions for powersharing by way of the policing issue.
“These are the conditions I set out in all my talks [with the two governments]. I fought an election on it. I won my majority on this very issue.”
Dr Paisley also insisted on significant changes to the Good Friday Agreement.
Speaking to reporters, he confirmed this meant he would be seeking changes to the agreement to provide for “collective responsibility” in any new executive in order to limit the powers of Sinn Féin Ministers.
Dr Paisley also confirmed he is still seeking to separate the equal posts of First and Deputy First Minister, to limit contact with any nationalist Deputy Minister,
He also anticipated an eventual need to move toward government decisions by way of “weighted” [unionist] majorities.
Dr Paisley said that there had been progress in peace efforts, which he said was a result of his party’s intransigence.
“Our pressure was successful . . . You do not throw away successful policies - you pursue them,” he said.