SF offers to meet Orde as party edges closer to policing
Republicans last night appeared to put another foot inside the policing door with an offer to meet directly with the Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde.
And in an article to be published today in the weekly republican newspaper An Phoblacht, Gerry Adams says he wants to settle the policing question within the St Andrews timeframe.
That means resolving outstanding issues and going to a special Sinn Fein Ard Fheis or party conference.
Republican support for and participation in policing is essential if a power-sharing deal is to be achieved by the March deadline.
In today's article, the Sinn Fein President again lists the outstanding issues - the most important of which is the transfer of policing and justice powers to local politicians.
He wants "a definitive timeframe" for this and agreement on "the departmental model into which power will be transferred".
The other key issue is MI5 and the role of the Security Service in national security matters here.
The Adams article states: "The PSNI cannot serve two masters. Neither can there ever again be a force within a force."
In new arrangements, it is expected close to one hundred PSNI officers will be attached to MI5 in their new Palace Barracks headquarters in Holywood.
In his article, Gerry Adams writes: "Let me be very clear about this. I am committed to calling a meeting of the Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle (party executive) immediately when these issues are resolved. The Ard Chomhairle meeting will be for the purpose of convening a special Ard Fheis (party conference) within the timeframe set out at St Andrews.
"However let me be equally clear that I will not go to the Ard Chomhairle to seek a special Ard Fheis unless I have the basis to do so.
"We are prepared to meet with the PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde on issues which fall within his remit."
The Chief Constable has met the Sinn Fein leadership before, but with the Prime Minister or other ministers present.
Sir Hugh will tell Sinn Fein his officers have got to be able to talk to the party "at every level".
The Adams article sets a republican context for resolving the policing question and achieving republican support. It does not guarantee a deal.
The DUP has opposed agreeing a fixed date for the transfer of policing and justice powers.