Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 16:36 UK

Justice powers devolved soon - PM

Gordon Brown addressing conference
Mr Brown told his party conference he wanted to see devolution completed

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has vowed to support the people of Northern Ireland in completing the "last and unfinished stage of the peace process".

During his speech at the Labour Park conference in Brighton, he called for the devolution of policing and justice to be completed soon.

Mr Brown said his predecessor, Tony Blair, had "to his great credit," started the process.

He said he wanted to see the work completed in the next few months.

Earlier, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the bulk of negotiations on devolution of policing and justice were complete and an overall deal on the budget was very close.

'Progress'

Speaking while attending the Labour Party Conference, he said budget talks involving himself, the First Minister and the government were focusing on final figures.

Last week, following talks with the Prime Minster, Mr McGuinness said progress had been "significant".

However, First Minster Peter Robinson signalled a more cautious note.

He pointed out that certain issues were outstanding.

The First and Deputy First Ministers met Gordon Brown in London last Monday to discuss the budget for policing and justice.

Financial deal

Their talks continued on Wednesday in New York where the two ministers attended an economic conference.

At that stage, Mr Robinson made it clear that the DUP would not be concluding the financial deal until the party officers and the party's assembly group had evaluated the package and were satisfied.

He said community confidence remained the crucial test for devolving policing and justice powers.

However, speaking in Brighton today, Mr McGuinness said more discussions would take place in the coming days and the next meeting with Gordon Brown would be "crucial".

"We are very close to agreement and people must remain patient," he said.



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