Sinn Féin holds crunch talks on policing

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and his party’s national executive will meet in Dublin today to decide whether to press ahead with plans to support the police in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and his party’s national executive will meet in Dublin today to decide whether to press ahead with plans to support the police in Northern Ireland.

The 58-member party executive backed moves on December 29 recommending a special conference this month of rank and file members to decide if they should endorse Sir Hugh Orde’s Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

But their decision was based on a positive response from the British and Irish governments and Democratic Unionist leader the Rev Ian Paisley.

When the words of approval they expected from the DUP leader did not materialise, republicans began to cast doubt on whether the special Sinn Fein conference on policing would take place.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern have identified Sinn Féin support for the PSNI as being crucial to persuading the DUP to share power in a devolved government with Gerry Adams’s party by March 26.

However as he prepared for today’s meeting Mr Adams accused the DUP leader of reneging on a deal which would have seen him use an agreed form of words in his New Year statement responding to the Sinn Féin’s national executive decision.

The DUP denied yesterday that it had made any commitment to Mr Blair and Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain, particularly on the issue of the transfer of policing and justice powers by May 2008.

“I am not in the business of saying one thing in private and another in public,” Mr Paisley said.

Despite his latest attack on the DUP, Mr Adams said he would be urging his national executive to judge everything in the round.

“In my presentation I will put to people that we still need civic policing, we still need to have an accountable police service and we still need to get the power-sharing institutions in place,” the West Belfast MP said.

“We cannot allow others to dictate the pace of change.”

More in this section