Page last updated at 09:16 GMT, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Police transfer over final hurdle

The House of Lords in session
Peers backed the transfer of policing powers to Northern Ireland

Moves to transfer policing and justice powers to Northern Ireland have cleared their final hurdle in the Lords.

Peers approved three parliamentary orders that will enable the creation of a Department for Justice for Northern Ireland on 12 April.

Northern Ireland Assembly members have already backed the transfer.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, for the Government, said the progress that lies behind the orders was "a triumph of politics".

Lord Glentoran, for the Conservatives, said: "At all times our over-riding objective is a peaceful, stable and prosperous Northern Ireland where all of its people have a shared future.

"Whether we remain in opposition or return to Government in a few weeks' time, that is the approach we will continue to take."

Lord Eames, the former Archbishop of Armagh and a crossbench peer, said: "I have no doubt that this House needs to send out a loud and clear message that this is a historic day for Northern Ireland."

UUP peer Lord Maginnis of Drumglass, whose party opposed the transfer of power in the NI Assembly, was critical of the move.

He said that Secretary of State Shaun Woodward and Prime Minister Gordon Brown had chosen to ignore the centre ground of Northern Ireland politics in favour of "an exclusive cabal".

He said that Sinn Fein "has, as we all know, murdered its way to power".

He added: "It is led by murderers who not only will never be brought to justice in this life, but will never be publicly examined."

Lord Browne of Belmont, a DUP member of the Assembly, said he found the opposition of the UUP to be "frankly baffling".

The three orders were passed without votes.

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