Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 16:24 UK

No deal on NI devolution budget

Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson
Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson held talks with the prime minister

A budget to devolve policing and justice powers to the NI assembly has yet to be agreed, the first and deputy first ministers have said.

Both Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown at Downing Street to discuss the matter.

Speaking afterwards, both ministers said some progress had been made.

"I think everybody recognises that it is important that we get these matters right," Mr Robinson said.

"No-one should be rushing towards the devolution of policing and justice in circumstances that leave us without the necessary funding."

However, Mr McGuinness said his party wanted a deal concluded as soon as possible because a general election could leave them negotiating with a different party.

"I don't know what the next government is going to be," he said.

"Is it going to be a Labour government? Is it going to be a Conservative government?

"What we have to do as politicians is conclude a deal now."

The three men are to meet in London again next week to have further discussions on the subject.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Conservative Party's Northern Ireland spokesman said his party could not give guarantees about the funding of policing and justice powers.

Mr Robinson has called on the party's leader, David Cameron, to approve any financial package offered by the prime minister.

He said there was no point agreeing with one government when another might take over.

However, Tory spokesman Owen Paterson said there would be no guarantees.

"We are facing a major economic crisis should we win the next election. We cannot give any guarantees on any spending programmes," Mr Paterson said on Wednesday.

"We will look at the details. All I can assure you is that we will do the right thing for Northern Ireland and that we will be responsible."

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