6 Feb 2010

Policing deal reached for Northern Ireland

8:58 pm on 6 February 2010

The British and Irish governments have unveiled an agreement in Northern Ireland aimed at saving the province's power-sharing arrangement.

The deal was reached between Northern Ireland's two main political parties - Sinn Fein, which favours a united Ireland, and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which wants to maintain the link with Britain.

They have agreed that policing and justice powers should be devolved from London to Belfast by 12 April, the BBC reports.

A cross-community vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly on devolving the powers must still be held. It is scheduled for 9 March.

Wrangling over the issue had threatened to bring down the power-sharing government.

US President Barack Obama has hailed the Northern Ireland policing deal as an important step.