Policing budget moves NI devolution forward

By Alex Stevenson

Financial proposals for policing and justice in Northern Ireland have been published by Gordon Brown, in what the prime minister has called a “very strong settlement” for the province.

The prime minister told MPs the package was “designed to make possible the completion of the last stage of devolution in Northern Ireland”.

It comes after a week of negotiations culminated in first minister Peter Robinson and deputy prime minister Martin McGuinness meeting with Mr Brown in Downing Street for talks lasting three hours last night.

A letter sent to the pair outlines the key elements of the settlement.

The Treasury is making £37.4 million available in addition to reserve funds. £20 million has been allocated every year for legal aid, although this will be cut to £14 million a year after 2012/13. Four former military bases will be handed over to the Northern Ireland executive for free.

“I believe that this is a very strong settlement which will ensure that all the people of Northern Ireland continue to have high quality policing and justice services,” Mr Brown concluded.