Page last updated at 08:43 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

SF warns of political 'free-fall'

Police checkpoint
Budget plans for the transfer of policing have been revealed

A senior Sinn Fein official has accused the DUP and British government of engaging in brinkmanship over the devolution of policing and justice.

National chairperson Declan Kearney said unionist and Government tactics have the potential to push the current impasse into "complete free-fall".

His comments appear in the newspaper An Phoblacht (Republican News).

He said that the DUP and Government were still not "learning the political lessons".

He added that the DUP and the government were making the "mistaken assumption" that Sinn Fein was so committed to the Stormont institutions that it no longer possessed any effective political leverage.

Mr Kearney said republicans were following "a national trajectory" and the local institutions were only of value if they deliver on the terms agreed on Good Friday and St Andrews.

Frustration

However Sinn Fein junior minister Gerry Kelly said that did not amount to a threat to collapse the Executive.

"We are not suggesting that at all," he said.

But he added that Sinn Fein was articulating its frustration with its view of the DUP's attitude to sharing power.

"What you are looking at with policing and justice is what the DUP's attitude to power sharing is. They have not fully grasped the idea that this is a joint office.

"Within the Office of First and Deputy First Minister, they continually demand what they want.

"The DUP, instead of showing leadership, are looking over their shoulder at Jim Allister who seems to be preventing them following the deal through.

"On the other hand they are playing into the hands of these so-called dissidents when I think the best message is policing and justice in the hands of people here."

Last month, Prime Minister Gordon Brown revealed budget plans for the transfer of policing and justice.

Sinn Fein has already approved the deal, but the DUP say the unionist community must have confidence in the plans and is seeking a number of concessions.

DUP leader Peter Robinson has said that issues of parading - including the abolition of the Parades Commission- need to be resolved before the transfer can take place.



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