07/12/2009

'Publish Justice Letter', Says McGuinness

Martin McGuinness has challenged Peter Robinson to publish a letter his party reportedly sent to Downing Street outlining policing and justice 'preconditions'.

The Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister's call came after Mr Robinson insisted devolution is not about equality, but what is best for Northern Ireland.

Despite agreeing a £1bn funding package for the transfer of policing and judiciary powers, it is understood the DUP sent an eight-page document to PM Gordon Brown highlighting a number of 'confidence building' measures.

Sinn Féin has insisted the new justice department should be established as soon as possible, while Democratic Unionists members have said community confidence is vital to the process.

First Minister, Mr Robinson, said he is not required to fulfil Sinn Féin's political agenda.

"Simply because Sinn Féin has a demand and can't get other parties to agree with their demand isn't an example of inequality, it means that they haven't been able to pursue their political agenda or at least that aspect of it," he told the BBC.

"There's no requirement on me to meet the demands of Sinn Féin and to fulfil their political agenda."

Speaking in Derry yesterday, Mr McGuinness called on the DUP to make its letter to the Prime Minister public.
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It is believed the document contained requests for concessions regarding the full time Police Reserves, the issuing of personal protection weapons for former security workers, and the abolition of the Parades Commission.

The Deputy First Minister told assembled republicans: "Thirteen months ago Peter Robinson and I agreed a process which would see this happen and I quote 'without undue delay'.

"The issue of funding was flagged up by both of us as vital to resolve. That, amongst quite a number of other matters have been agreed.

"Achieving community confidence was also an agreed part of the process. The people Sinn Féin represents have the confidence to support us in moving forward."

He said the DUP "keep harping on about community confidence".

"Fair enough, but I must make it crystal clear that the eight page letter which I believe is loaded with preconditions and sent by Peter Robinson to the British Prime Minister, was neither seen or agreed by me, his partner in government, as part of our agreed process paper.

"Therefore I believe that publication of this letter is both reasonable and essential."

His comments came after Alliance leader David Ford said his party would not nominate a justice minister until certain policy is agreed.

Mr Ford is hotly tipped to take the ministerial job, after legislation was changed to allow the minister to be selected on a cross community basis.

All 108 MLAs received a letter from the First and Deputy First Ministers last week asking them to nominate a candidate in the coming days.

(PR/BMcC)

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