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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
Parties clash angrily on policing
PSNI patrol
The SDLP and Sinn Fein argued over the issue of policing
Sinn Fein and SDLP politicians have clashed over policing at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference.

SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell accused Sinn Fein of orchestrating a campaign of attacks against members of District Policing Partnerships.

Sinn Fein assembly member John O'Dowd angrily rejected this.

He said SDLP MLA PJ Bradley's claims at the meeting that he had been personally threatened by a Sinn Fein politician should be reported to the police.

The meeting, arranged by the Agreed Ireland Forum, was otherwise without incident, with both parties agreeing on the need for the restoration of devolution.

The keynote speaker, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain, said if the politicians failed to reach a deal at next month's intensive talks in Scotland, the British and Irish governments would not go chasing after them.

"Do not believe for a moment that an incoming prime minister to replace Tony Blair - probably and in my view it ought to be Gordon Brown - is going to be able to give the same concentrated, detailed, expert attention to Northern Ireland as Tony Blair has done," he added.

Devolution was suspended in October 2002 over allegations of a republican spy ring.

The court case that followed collapsed and one of those charged, Denis Donaldson, later admitted working as a British agent.

The British government has laid down 24 November as the deadline for a deal to be reached over the restoration of devolution.

The main parties meet in the Scottish town of St Andrews next month for intensive talks.


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