Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Robinson 'committed to agreement'

First Minister Peter Robinson has repeated his commitment to the agreements reached with Sinn Fein at Hillsborough Castle.

He and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness made a statement to the assembly on 9 February 2010 about the Hillsborough agreement reached on 5 February to transfer the powers for policing and justice from Westminster.

Many details of the agreement are yet to be worked out, such as who will take the post of justice minister, and the resolution of contentious parades.

The first minister outlined the timetable for the devolution of policing and justice, which is planned to take effect from 12 April 2010, on which date a new justice minister will be elected on the floor of the house.

Mr Robinson emphasised the commitment to the principle of the independence of the judiciary and the chief constable.

He also described how the new minister for justice will be charged with setting out the responsibilities for the justice ministry, to be approved by the executive, and added to the existing programme for government.

The first minster added that a new working group to improve the functionality of the executive would be co-chaired by the leaders of the UUP and the SDLP.

Mr McGuinness said the working group set up to deal with parades had met earlier in the day and would complete its work within the next two weeks.

He said he was supremely confident that legislation to put new arrangements in place for the resolution of parades would be completed by the end of the year. The deputy first minister said he was also supremely confident that the transfer of policing and justice powers would take place on 12 April.

He said: "It is our intention that a draft bill (on parades) will be completed for consultation by late March. The consultation process will run until early June.

"We will introduce a bill in September at the assembly. We intend to support all necessary steps in the assembly to ensure that the bill completes all stages before the end of 2010."


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