Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Sunday, 24 August 2008 17:16 UK

SF threatens to collapse assembly

Police officers
Policing and justices powers have proven contentious

Sinn Fein will collapse the Northern Ireland Assembly if policing and justice are not devolved, it has said.

The party is involved in talks with the DUP on the issue but said it would pull its ministers out of the executive if there was no movement.

Speaking at a republican meeting in Co Cavan, Caoimhghin O Caolain said his party's patience should not be tested.

He said republicans were growing increasingly concerned at the lack of progress being made.

"If we are forced to conclude that change will not be forthcoming from the executive then we will have no option but to pull out our ministers and seek to put pressure where responsibility ultimately lies, which is on the British government in London," he said.

"There is now widespread and growing concern among republicans at the failure to transfer policing and justice powers from London to Belfast in due time.

Caoimhghin O Caolain
Caoimhghin O Caolain said his party's patience should not be tested.

"When Sinn Fein changed our policy on policing in the north, accepting that a new beginning was being made, it was with the prospect that policing and justice powers would be transferred by May of this year.

"It is now the end of August and we do not even have a date for transfer. This is totally unacceptable."

Transferring policing and justice powers from Westminster to Stormont 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.




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