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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 06:38 GMT 07:38 UK
Sinn Fein not ready for PSNI move
Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams
The meeting between the party leaders was postponed
Sinn Fein is still debating whether to back the PSNI but is not ready to vote on it, its policing spokesman says.

Gerry Kelly was speaking after a meeting to be attended by both Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams was postponed.

"We wanted to get to the point where we could put a proposition to an Ard Comhairle - we have not reached that."

The DUP wants a pledge of support for policing in place before Mr Paisley and SF's Martin McGuinness can become shadow first and deputy first minister.

Mr Kelly told the BBC's Spotlight programme that discussions were still ongoing.

"This is a very fundamental issue, it always has been for republicans, and we intend to get it right," he added.

Sinn Fein has confirmed that its Ard Chomhairle or party executive will be briefed on the St Andrews Agreement on Thursday in Dublin. The executive is the body which is expected to respond to the government by 10 November.

The Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended in 2002

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said the postponement of Tuesday's Programme for Government meeting at Stormont was merely "a glitch".

Mr Hain put off the meeting after the DUP raised objections over the pledge of office and threatened to boycott the occasion.

Mr Paisley and SF's Martin McGuinness are due to become shadow first and deputy first ministers on 24 November.

The DUP insist support for policing and law and order is in place before then.

'Full consultation'

Speaking after the postponement, Mr Paisley said the DUP's assembly members had "passed a unanimous vote in the leadership of this party".

"We have a document issued by the two governments. It is not our document. It is their document," he said.

"We are going to take time to consider it and give to the people of Northern Ireland our findings on the matter and also we are going to have a full consultation with the people."

Last week's St Andrews Agreement stated that before the government legislated on the pledge of office, "it will consider the outcome of further Preparation for Government Committee discussions on policing and the rule of law".

Gerry Adams said a lot of people would be disappointed by the DUP's decision but that "it isn't the end of the process".

'Panic politics'

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: "Undue problems are being created, or generated, in and around the questions about pledge of office and what will happen on the 24 November."

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said it was a "very fluid situation" amid what he described as "panic politics".

The Northern Ireland parties have been given until 10 November to respond to what the governments are calling the St Andrews Agreement.

It was published after intensive three-day talks between the parties at St Andrews in Scotland.

If all goes to plan, a first and deputy first minister will be nominated on 24 November and the devolved institutions will be up and running by 26 March.





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