Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009

Maskey attacks SDLP over justice

Alex Maskey
Alex Maskey said he considered it a 'sham debate'

Sinn Fein assembly member Alex Maskey has launched a scathing attack on the SDLP during an assembly debate on devolving justice powers to Stormont.

He said against a backdrop of dissident republicans and TUV "cavemen", the SDLP was tabling spurious amendments and failing to show leadership.

Mr Maskey said the SDLP's approach was "disgraceful".

He said the party seemed to prefer to "sit and twiddle its thumbs and debate for hours".

Opposing two SDLP amendments to the Justice Bill, Mr Maskey said he considered it to be a "sham debate".

"We had two lengthy debates no later than a week ago, and I'm not sure how much was illuminated there," he said

"Individuals and parties felt it was more important to grandstand and score political points to try and make themselves more relevant than they would be otherwise."

The DUP's Stephen Moutray said the SDLP amendments were uncalled for and unnecessary, while his party colleague Jim Shannon described the debate as "groundhog day".

SDLP justice spokesman Alex Attwood said previous debates on the bill had been about the "who and when" of policing and justice, and this debate was about "character and content".

The amendments were defeated.

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23 Nov 09 |  Northern Ireland

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