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Policing powers transfer 'more symbolic'

By Brian Rowan

Published 21/12/2007

Sinn Fein could find the devolution of policing and justice to be "the biggest anti-climax ever" according to a senior DUP source.

SINN Fein could find the devolution of policing and justice to be "the biggest anti-climax ever", according to a senior DUP source.

He said that while there would be "plenty of symbolism" there would be "very little power".

Last week, the DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson linked the transfer of policing and justice to the Executive with the disbandment of the IRA Army Council.

And a senior party source who has now spoken to this newspaper said such a move "would be symbolically important to us".

He said it would be a sign of "a maturing political situation . . . and that we are now post-conflict".

But he again insisted that policing and justice powers would only be transferred when "there is political confidence emerging from the unionist community".

That would be helped by:

  • An end to the Army Council;
  • A resolution of the parades issue;
  • And, an end to the attacks on Orange halls.

"That would feed the issue of confidence," the senior DUP source said.

He was not suggesting IRA involvement in the burning of Orange halls, but said republicans could provide information or evidence on those behind the attacks.

The Army Council is the leadership in overall control of the IRA organisation.

It ordered the ceasefires, the acts of decommissioning and the end of the armed campaign - and it also cleared the way for the republican move into policing when it held what is called a General Army Convention in January of this year.

The British Government has set a target of May for the devolution of policing and justice, but the DUP has not agreed to that date.

Belfast Telegraph

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