Peter Robinson 'struggling to sell Northern Ireland policing deal to DUP'
Tuesday 02 February 2010
Negotiations over a devolution deal continued into the early hours amid growing indications that DUP leader Peter Robinson was struggling to sell policing and justice proposals to members of his own party.
Sinn Fein and DUP teams were again meeting at Hillsborough overnight after the emergence of signs of last-minute problems which prevented a return visit yesterday by Premiers Gordon Brown and Brian Cowen.
There were reports of unease within DUP ranks and indications that some of the party's Assembly team has voiced disquiet about aspects of the agreement.
Remaining issues were said to centre on when revised mechanisms for dealing with parades might come into effect — apparently not in time for this year's marching season — and how a new Department of Justice will work. There were also indications of concerns that promises over how the wider party would be involved in consultations have not yet been met.
Mr Robinson, however, who reportedly met his MLAs one-by-one along with Acting First Minister Arlene Foster, was said to be confident the negotiations could be closed.
While their frustration continued, Sinn Fein appeared fairly relaxed at any 11th-hour difficulties.
The Assembly parties had been set to seal the deal to make local control over police and the legal system a reality — just after their 1,000th day in office since devolution returned.
The wraps were expected to come off a package of proposals, including a streamlined procedure on parades to prevent contentious marches bringing violence to flashpoint areas and destabilising the administration.
Prime Ministers Brown and Cowen were said to be on stand-by to fly back to Ulster to herald an historic handover of powers from Westminster, with a Stormont administration responsible for law and order for the first time in almost 40 years.
Mr Robinson was last night locked into “clarification” talks with Secretary of State Shaun Woodward and Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin at Hillsborough. Now stood down as First Minister for three weeks, Mr Robinson emerged from a party meeting shortly after teatime flanked by his predecessor Ian Paisley, party hardliner Gregory Campbell and his deputy leader Nigel Dodds, who is seen as a pivotal figure in bringing party sceptics over the line to accept a deal.
Mr Robinson said a number of issues remained to be resolved which he hoped could be achieved “with all due diligence”.
Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said a number of issues still had to be resolved but the party was confident of reaching a deal. “There are no sticking points — we are close to conclusion,” he said.
First Minister Questions at the Northern Ireland Assembly was postponed as speculation mounted that a deal on policing and justice powers was close.
At least preliminary arrangements for Mr Brown to travel back to Belfast were inadvertently revealed in the House of Commons. It also emerged Mr Cowen had cancelled a trip to Madrid.
In London Foreign Secretary David Miliband let it slip in Parliament that Mr Brown had been en route and then postponed travel plans for Belfast.
Asked by MPs where the PM was, Mr Miliband said: “He's in Northern Ireland actually.” Then he corrected his comments after being handed a note.
The ongoing talks also meant First Ministers Question Time in the Assembly was called off.
New SDLP MLA Conall McDevitt said it was 1001 days since the current DUP and Sinn Fein-dominated Executive began, yet it had achieved less than its predecessor, primarily run by his party and Ulster Unionists, in 750 days.
* Source: The Belfast Telegraph
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
David Cameron explains selfie with Obama and Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Mandela Memorial
French café starts charging extra to rude customers
Krokodil in Mexico? Teenager hospitalised after 'injecting drug into her genitals'
Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 John McAfee's $100 'anti-NSA' device: 'this is coming and cannot be stopped'
- 3 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 4 Is Facebook making us forget? Study shows that taking pictures ruin memories
- 5 Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
£77099.84 - £96375.26 per annum + Bonus + Benefits : Harrington Starr: My clie...
£45000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus and Package: Harrington Starr: Trading appli...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Developer (Win...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior QA Engineer Tes...