Page last updated at 10:34 GMT, Sunday, 21 September 2008 11:34 UK

Executive has to meet, party told

Shaun Woodward
Shaun Woodward said devolution could be completed with a year

The Stormont Executive needs to meet, Secretary of State Shaun Woodward has told the Labour Party conference.

He said he believed the parties had the will to overcome their differences on policing and that devolution can be completed within 12 months.

Mr Woodward told the conference that the transfer of policing powers was a "difficult final step" for unionists and trust had to be built.

"Time can be a deadline, but time can also be a friend," he said.

Mr Woodward said the government believed there was a majority in both communities that wanted policing and justice powers transferred.

"We promise to help ensure that when the parties, as they will, agree the transfer that we will provide the help to ensure success - we will not walk away from you, we stand with you," he added.

He said that while dissident republicans were still active, a report on the status of the IRA's ruling 'army council' showed politics was now the vehicle for resolving division.

"There is still a threat in Northern Ireland, but not from the IRA," he said.

The Northern Ireland Executive has not met over the summer, as Sinn Féin insisted on more progress over devolving justice powers.

Alliance 'not a sticking plaster'
20 Sep 08 |  Northern Ireland
Stormont set to stay deadlocked
18 Sep 08 |  Northern Ireland

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