Tuesday 26 September 2017

Robinson warning on policing deal

It is too soon to tell if a deal will be clinched on devolving policing and justice powers to the North, the leader of the Democratic Unionists has warned.

Peter Robinson said the controversy had dogged the power-sharing government throughout its three-year existence but he downplayed any sense of crisis.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown are chairing intensive negotiations involving all the main parties at Hillsborough Castle in Co Down in an attempt to break the stalemate.

Downing Street said it was "too early to speculate" about whether Mr Brown would spend a second night in the North.

A spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister and the Taoiseach are both of the view that progress can be made."

Mr Robinson said: "It really isn't until the last few minutes or hours that you do get the sense that it (a deal) can be put together. I can't say that there is going to be a deal, we are going to sit at the table... until we get the deal."

He added: "The issue of policing and justice has dogged us in the Assembly. It has taken away the focus that we should have on other issues."

As well as setting a date for the transfer of security responsibilities from London to Belfast, there is also the question of the adjudication of controversial loyal order parades in dispute with Sinn Fein.

The DUP East Belfast MP added that community engagement could help resolve that.

"What we need to do is to ensure that we get a resolution to parades disputes," he said.

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