Irish Republican News · October 16, 2009
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Two issues remain in policing and justice talks

There have been further claims of progress by Sinn Fein in its talks with British prime minister Gordon Brown over the policing and justice powers. However, the DUP has said there remain matters which require resolution.

The DUP’s Peter Robinson and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinnesss held their fifth meeting in ten days with Mr Brown at Downing Street yesterday. After the talks, which covered a range of issues, it was announced that fewer items remained unresolved.

Speaking outside Downing Street, Mr Robinson declined to say what the issues were. But he added they were important and went to the heart of DUP concerns and required “clarification”.

“I hope that the prime minister can clarify these matters as soon as possible,” he added, denying that the DUP were stalling for time.

The SDLP blasted the prolonged talks process, describing it as a “merry-go-round” and demanding a deadline for implementation.

Sinn Fein has revealed that the talks on a financial package to support the transfer of powers have effectively ended, and only “little technical issues” remain.

The Sinn Fein officer board [leadership] met in Dublin earlier and agreed to accept Mr Brown’s offer.

Speaking after the Downing Street meeting Mr McGuinness said: “Apart from one or two little technical issues we have finalised the negotiations. This is not about figures at this stage, this is about technical matters.”

“The issue of funding has now been conclusively dealt with in my view and I think it’s now a matter of urgency that we move - and with all speed - to ensure that the transfer of power of policing and justice takes place.”

Despite pressure from the other political parties, no-one has identified the remaining issues. It is still unclear if they involve the new unionist demands unveiled last week, which include major items such as a call for the Parades Commission to be scrapped.

The attitude of the Conservative Party, widely expected to come to power in London by next May, is also complicating matters.

Meanwhile, former 26 County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said that it is in the interests of unionists to work with Sinn Fein to finalise the transfer of powers.

He claimed Sinn Fein’s ‘know-how’ would be essential if dissident republicans are to be defeated by a devolved, local police force.

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© 2009 Irish Republican News