Page last updated at 20:07 GMT, Monday, 30 November 2009

PM 'optimistic' about devolution

Gordon Brown and Brian Cowen at Downing Street
The British and Irish prime ministers are meeting in Downing Street

The British and Irish governments have said they will hold more talks with Sinn Fein and the DUP over the next few days.

The governments said they would hold the talks in an attempt to break the deadlock over policing and justice.

Speaking in Downing Street during talks with Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Gordon Brown said he remained optimistic an agreement could be reached.

However, the prime minister ruled out imposing a deadline on the discussions.

Mr Brown said the local parties had made huge progress and that both governments would continue to work closely with them.

"We are realistic about the challenges, but optimistic about the final outcome," he said.

Agreement

"In all the issues we are making progress, and we have got the financial agreement which is actually the basis for the devolution of policing and justice, and the other issues that remain, I believe we can find solutions to them."

Mr Cowen said both governments, the Independent Monitoring Commission and the PSNI chief constable were in agreement.

"The devolution of policing and justice is necessary to consolidate the functioning of the devolved institutions and to complete the transformation of policing in Northern Ireland," he said.

"In the current economic climate, a stable working Executive is best placed to look after the needs and requirements of all the people of Northern Ireland."

Earlier on Monday the DUP's Gregory Campbell said the devolution of policing and justice could take "years".

His remarks followed comments by Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness that a date for the transfer of powers must be set by Christmas.



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