Page last updated at 10:36 GMT, Tuesday, 5 August 2008 11:36 UK

Adams defends justice agreement

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams has defended his party's stance

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams has defended the stance of his party and the DUP on the transfer of policing and justice powers from Westminster to Stormont.

Earlier, Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey criticised both parties for their handling of discussions.

His comments came after the DUP and Sinn Fein seemed to be closer to a deal to allow the transfer to happen.

Mr Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, accused other parties of playing games over the issue.

"It struck me as quite interesting the different parties, the Alliance Party in high dudgeon saying they weren't going to take the job - it's nice to be asked - and the SDLP saying they were the naturals for the job," he said.

He added that he did not think Sir Reg Empey was serious when he said devolving policing and justice powers would be problematic.

"There's a bit of posturing and a bit of politicking going on with these other parties," Mr Adams said.

Earlier, Sir Reg questioned whether the NI assembly is ready for the transfer of policing and justice powers.

He said the devolution of such powers could create problems for the Stormont executive.

Sir Reg Empey
Sir Reg Empey said DUP and Sinn Fein agreement was "half-baked"

"I think this is half-baked, I don't think we're ready for it, I don't think the people want it," he said.

"I don't know who's going to do it (be justice minister) because we've not been involved in any discussions on it, it appears the Alliance haven't been properly involved in discussions on it, I don't believe the SDLP has.

"So how you can announce an agreement, without other parties being involved in it, escapes me."

Agreement

The DUP and Sinn Fein have agreed there will be a single department of justice with a minister needing cross-community support to be elected.

The two parties have said they would not nominate candidates themselves.

But Alliance, the party most likely to supply a minister, has said it is not interested in taking on the post.

Transferring policing and justice has been one of the most contentious issues since devolution was restored to Northern Ireland.

The failure of Sinn Fein and DUP to agree on the issue has been a key factor in what some have described as a deadlock at Stormont.

There is still no agreement on when transfer of powers would take place.


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