Members of the Irish Republican Socialist Party have protested outside a hall last night where PSNI chief Hugh Orde, at the invitation of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, spoke in west Belfast on how to tackle anti-social crime.
The talk, descibed as “groundbreaking”, was the first time the PSNI chief participated in such an event at Sinn Féin’s request.
Mr Adams smiled and shook hands with Orde when he entered the Whiterock Community Centre where the meeting was held, but was lambasted as a “traitor” by the IRSP protestors.
The meeting was called to address the wider problem of anti-social crime in the area but particularly to devise a concerted plan to deal with a local feud between two families that has led to death, serious injuries, and arson and other attacks in Ballymurphy.
Earlier, Mr Adams held direct talks with Ian Paisley as party delegations settled into the start of a series of meetings between Sinn Féin and the DUP.
When the two partty leaders first sat down together shortly before the restoration of power-sharing in May it made worldwide headlines.
Mr Adams said the discussion would assist the political institutions to “bed down and develop further”.
He added: “Sinn Féin are committed to seeing these institutions working effectively for the people who elect us and we will continue to engage with all parties as we collectively face up to and tackle the many challenges which have to be overcome.”
The transfer of the remaining powers of policing and justice from London to Belfast is the principle issue on the political agenda.
The new British Northern Secretary, Shaun Woodward, has said there is no reason why the powers cannot be devolved to the Belfast executive by next May.
Speaking on his first day in the north since his appointment last week, Mr Woodward said his main task would be to oversee the transfer of these powers.
“I see no reason to think this cannot be delivered by people in Northern Ireland,” he said. “It is the people of Northern Ireland who want this to happen.”
Sinn Féin Assembly member Mitchel McLaughlin, in an implicit reference to the devolution of justice powers, said Mr Woodward must follow through on commitments in the St Andrews Agreement.
“Sinn Féin will be seeking an early meeting with the new British secretary of state to discuss this and other matters including urgent progress on the delivery of a significant economic package for the new Executive,” he said.
“Clearly we want to move to a position where the presence of a British secretary of state here becomes unnecessary.
“In the interim we expect the new incumbent to build upon the progress we have secured in recent months and continue to work alongside the Irish Government and all of the parties in ensuring that all outstanding matters are dealt with,” Mr McLaughlin added.