Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 17:20 UK

Policing talks 'make progress'

Martin McGuinness: "I have to say I'm pleased with the outcome"

Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers are to brief their parties following further talks on the devolution of policing and justice.

Following late night discussions in Downing Street on Thursday, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness said "massive progress" had been made.

He said all sides were "on the cusp of agreement" on a financial package to fund the transfer of the powers.

The DUP's Peter Robinson said he would respond after speaking to his party.

But he said recent negotiations with the prime minister had won "millions of pounds" more for the policing and justice budget.

On Friday, he said that before putting the latest figures to his party he wanted to make sure that the police and the court service had all they needed.

Mr Robinson said he was right in not coming to a deal too quickly.

"We are hundreds of millions of pounds better off in our police and justice budget today than we were in New York," he said.

"So it is important that we keep a steady head, that we examine the figures very carefully.

"I will want to speak again with the chief constable and with the director for the court service to be sure that they are content."

The two parties have been arguing over when the transfer of powers to Stormont should take place.

Thursday night's discussions ended at about midnight after more than four hours.

Peter Robinson: "We are not going to be pushed or bullied"

BBC Ireland correspondent Mark Simpson said it was too early to say a deal had been done, but government sources had indicated they were cautiously optimistic about the outcome.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has spent all week trying to find agreement over the questions of finance and timing.

Our correspondent said the financial problem appeared close to resolution, but the timing of the transfer was still unclear.

Mr McGuinness, Northern Ireland's deputy first minister, wants it to happen immediately.

He told reporters outside Downing Street that he was "pleased with the outcome" of the talks.

We will want to be sure that the issues that we have discussed are interpreted and expressed in the communication in the way that we would expect
Peter Robinson
First Minister

He said: "We've effectively concluded our discussions on the funding issues in relation to the transfer of power in policing and justice.

"So I have to say, I think a good night's work has been done."

Mr Brown is to send details of the package to Northern Ireland political parties on Monday.

'No bullying'

First Minister Mr Robinson said he would make his position clear once he had consulted his party colleagues.

He insisted that his party would not be "pushed or bullied or bribed".

Mr Robinson added: "The prime minister understands the issues. He is going to put together his proposal on paper.

"I've been in many sets of negotiations and we will want to be sure that the issues that we have discussed are interpreted and expressed in the communication in the way that we would expect, and then colleagues are going to have to make a judgement based on the proposition."

Thursday night's meeting was the third between the prime minister and the first and deputy first ministers this week.

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