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Plea over devolution of justice

Published 10/03/2009

The killing of two soldiers outside an Army barracks in Antrim must not be allowed to delay moves towards the devolution of policing and justice in Northern Ireland, Westminster politicians pledged last night.

There will be no delay in the Northern Ireland Bill, which paves the way for Stormont to take over the running of policing and justice, Lords Leader and Northern Ireland spokesman Baroness Royall of Blaisdon told the House of Lords.

The bill was rushed through all its Commons stages in one day last Wednesday, despite protests from Opposition parties, and is set to become law on Thursday. It is due to receive an unopposed Lords second reading later tonight and to complete its Lords stages on Wednesday.

Lady Royall, opening yesterday’s debate, referred to the weekend’s “tragic events”, the “cold and deliberate murder” of two people and serious injuries to four more, including two civilians. It was “a shocking reminder of Northern Ireland’s dark past”.

“A small minority of people are determined to halt the political progress. But, my Lords, they will not succeed. This small minority have no community support,” Lady Royall said.

“That is why it is important that we are not deterred from that political path which has been carefully constructed over the last 12 years.”

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