'Major step' as policing powers finally transferred
JUSTICE Minister Dermot Ahern yesterday welcomed the restoration of policing powers to the North -- almost 40 years after the British government controversially removed them from local ministers.
The deal, brokered by the DUP and Sinn Fein two months ago, has allowed for the transfer of the powers from London to Belfast today -- with Alliance Party leader David Ford expected to be the justice minister.
A spokesman for Mr Ahern said it was a major step forward for the political process.
"Obviously the minister looks forward to working closely with his counterparts in the North," he said.
Mr Ahern also paid tribute to the work of the North's security minister, British Labour MP Paul Goggins, whose job will be ended by the transfer.
The former British prime minister Ted Heath decided to take policing powers out of the hands of the North's unionist-ruled parliament in Stormont in 1972 when the Troubles were at their height and the region was on the brink of outright civil war. Northern Ireland's prime minister Brian Faulkner branded the decision as a "betrayal by London".
It prompted the fall of the devolved administration.