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‘Division in DUP ranks’ due to be discussed

By Noel McAdam

A crunch meeting of the DUP's executive is on the cards in an apparent bid to prevent divisions on a devolution deal developing into a split, it emerged last night.

Majority backing from the party's executive will also be crucial if it is to sell a deal on the handover of police, prisons and legal system powers to Stormont with Sinn Fein input.

The already-delayed quarterly executive meeting could come tomorrow or Friday depending on the outcome of a potentially make-or-break session of the party's MLAs this morning. Negotiations with Sinn Fein and the other parties are expected to go on now for most of this week.

There are reports around 14 of the DUPs 36 MLAs have difficulties with the package of proposals on the devolution of policing and justice.

Their concerns are believed to centre on how a Department of Justice might work, and the drafting of protocols for a future Justice Minister, as well as the timetable for the introduction of changes over how contentious parades could be dealt with.

“The range from fairly minor misgivings to some who have deeper problems. On parades the concern is more broadly based than just individual parades,” one source said.

A party spokesman said: “We are not ruling out a meeting of the executive over the next period. One is already due, but no decisions have been taken.

“We have issues we still need to be addressed and we are not going into what those are. We need a deal which is going to be durable and there is still a lot of work to be done.”

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