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18/09/2006

Government urges Sinn Fein to support PSNI

The government has today urged Sinn Fein to give its support to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in a bid to help boost the prospects of a political deal being reached in restoring devolution by the November 24 deadline.

Commenting on this, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain said that he feels that it would be “an enormous boost to the prospects of doing a deal by November 24 if the Sinn Fein leadership made an unequivocal commitment to support policing."

He added that there have been indications that the Republican leadership is moving towards a position where it can recommend support for the PSNI.

Speaking earlier today at a press conference at Stormont Castle, he said that republicans had no excuse not to support the new policing structures in Northern Ireland.

The meeting followed the announcement that both British and Irish Premiers were to embark on devolution talks at St Andrews in Scotland at the start of next month.

The talks are due to take place between October 11 and 13, and Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern are expected to focus on discussing a joint British-Irish strategy aimed a bringing about the re-establishment of the power-sharing executive at Stormont.

The Secretary of State also warned the DUP not to think that if there is an agreement reached with Sinn Fein that it will have any bearing on the November 24 deadline being changed.

Mr Hain stressed that there would be no decision to extend the deadline and added that if there is no deal by November 24 “then Stormont shuts down.”

Earlier today, when addressing the all-party Preparation for Government Committee, the Secretary of State suggested that it could take up to ten years before fresh efforts were made to restore devolution.

(EF/KMcA)

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