Sinn Fein agrees decisive police conference

Gerry Adams has accused Ian Paisley's party of bad faith
Gerry Adams has accused Ian Paisley's party of bad faith

The divisive issue of policing in Northern Ireland is set to be resolved before the end of the month after Sinn Fein's national executive agreed to hold a conference on the matter.

On January 28th more than 2,000 of the party's members will meet to discuss and vote on whether to approve the proposed Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Sinn Fein has previously vigorously opposed the police force for a perceived unionist bias, but leader Gerry Adams has worked to convince his party otherwise ahead of the March 26th deadline for a power-sharing agreement to be reached.

Yesterday Mr Adams got the two-thirds of the 46 Sinn Fein national executive votes he needed to hold a special conference at the end of January.

The move has already been welcomed by prime minister Tony Blair and Irish taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Fears had been raised yesterday that an agreement on the PSNI remained a remote possibility after Mr Adams accused Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Ian Paisley or reneging on a deal made between the two parties at the end of 2006.

"The agreed words were never said which is why there is now a crisis in the process," he said yesterday.

Mr Paisley rejected this claim, however, saying that "I am not in the business of saying one thing in private and another in public".

Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain said that he wanted to see progress from Sinn Fein on policing, telling the BBC that the party faced "make-your-mind-up time".

He added: "I hope that the DUP will be a little more encouraging of that as well, rather than the begrudging attitude you get from too many DUP politicians."


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