30/10/2009

Adams Slams DUP Leader On Policing

The DUP needs to "get their act in order" and obey the communal imperative on the devolution of policing and justice to Stormont.

The Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said yesterday that the DUP appear to be putting up a pre-condition that Orange Order parades and the issues around them have to be resolved before the powers on policing and justice can be transferred.

"This is totally and absolutely unacceptable," he fumed.

He said that what he called "Westminster grandstanding" is not a genuine or sincere or serious attempt to resolve the issue of parades.

Gerry Adams has also called on the Orange Order to engage in dialogue with local residents to resolve the small number of remaining contentious parades.

The move comes after First Minister Peter Robinson told MPs of the "political imperative" to resolve issues of parading in Northern Ireland before policing and justice powers were devolved.

Mr Robinson also called for the abolition of the Parades Commission, which is responsible for placing restrictions on parades that it deems contentious.

He branded it "not a solution to problems but part of the problem itself".

However, Mr Adam's position remains that the parades issue cannot be mixed up with the policing and justice debate.
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"This is an issue which is distinctly separate and which will not be resolved as a precondition - it's totally and absolutely unacceptable," he said.

However, Mr Robinson has made it clear that while the Deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness, has been pressing for powers to be devolved for many weeks, the DUP leader has remained firm in the face of pressure and has secured a substantially better funding package from the UK Exchequer than would have been the case had agreement been reached earlier in the long-running process.

For that reason, it is unlikely that the DUP will be "railroaded" into any settlement until such times as the DUP can be assured that the policing and justice assurances they are seeking are agreed.

Just two weeks ago, Peter Robinson said his party would not be 'spooked by pressure' to agree a deal and insisted that the party still wants clarification on some aspects of the package.

However, he said much had been achieved by the application of political pressure: "The funding offer from the Prime Minister which we received goes beyond anything on offer previously," Mr Robinson said.

"By holding our nerve, we have a package today which is hundreds of millions of pounds higher than it was only a week ago."

See: Policing Devolution Deal On The Way?

(BMcC/KMcA)

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