Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Dissident republicans want to sabotage justice talks

Police Ombudsman Al Hutchingson
Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson gave evidence to the committee

Dissident republicans will want to sabotage whatever is achieved in policing and justice talks in NI, the head of a committee of MPs has warned.

Groups like the Real IRA must not be allowed to dictate progress, Sir Patrick Cormack said.

His NI Affairs Committee was considering devolution of policing and justice powers from London to Belfast.

The British and Irish premiers are chairing talks at Hillsborough, County Down.

Sir Patrick said: "There are some people who will want to sabotage whatever is achieved and there are some people who have shown that they hold human life very cheap, but we must not allow those people to dictate the progress of the outcome."

Earlier this month, dissidents tried to kill a police officer.


Constable Peadar Heffron had a leg amputated after his car was bombed near Randalstown, County Antrim.

Last year a policeman's partner was hurt near police headquarters in east Belfast when a device exploded under the vehicle.

In March two soldiers were shot dead at Massereene Barracks, Antrim, by the Real IRA.

Two days later Constable Stephen Carroll was gunned down in Craigavon, County Armagh, by the Continuity IRA.

Sir Patrick heard evidence on Monday from Chief Constable Matt Baggott and Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson about the devolution of security powers.

"It's going to call for understanding, tolerance, patience from all sides. What I don't want to see is talks collapse at Hillsborough," he said.

"Whether they can reach an agreement today - I hope they can - but if they can't, what we do not want is an end, because so many people have invested so much in getting the Assembly and power-sharing executive in being that we do not want it all to crumble to dust."

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