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19/09/2006

Sinn Fein boycott Stormont debate

The Democratic Unionist Party have today hit out at Sinn Fein after they failed to attend an assembly debate on a law and order report they helped produce.

Speaking at the Stormont Preparation for Government Committee, DUP leader Ian Paisley confirmed that its members had agreed to back proposals for the government to transfer policing and justice powers to a single devolved government department. However, he also said republicans had to sign up to policing before there could be power-sharing.

He added that unionists would not accept devolution of policing and justice until they were convinced that the IRA was out of action.

Sinn Fein currently has members sitting on the committee who helped to prepare the initial report, but has since said it will not take part in debates on matters over which the assembly has no power.

Ian Paisley added that unionism resented the notion that Sinn Fein would only move when it gets what it was promised.

Mr Paisley said: "A party wishing to sit in government over the people of Northern Ireland yet at the same time not supporting the police will be resisted by all right- thinking people.

"We will not have any truck with those who try to foist such a programme on us for their own narrow political agenda.”

He continued by saying that “the days of those who would undermine democracy and the rule of law in government are over for ever.”

Responding to Mr Paisley's comments, Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy said that today's debate on the report was pointless and added that it was yet another instalment in the “charade politics” which has been the hallmark of these meaningless debates.

Mr Murphy added that just like other issues, such as rates and the economy, the issue of policing would not have been resolved or progressed during today's meeting.

He concluded: "The reality remains, and all of the parties and the two governments know this, that the policing issues will only be resolved with the British government honouring the public commitments it has made, on issues like transfer, and the DUP entering into fully functioning power-sharing institutions with the rest of the parties."

(EF/KMcA)

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