David Ford said: “It would be very positive if justice powers could be devolved as early as April, because the sooner powers are transferred, the sooner real stability can be created within the Stormont Executive. Devolution should, and could, be all about delivery instead of deadlock.
“I believe early devolution is essential for public confidence and it will help make relationships within the Executive much more positive and productive. Quicker transfer of powers also closes the time vacuum that dissident republican elements are trying to exploit in their violent campaign of hate.
“The only downside I can see to this speculation is that at times it can be unhelpful as it may destabilize one party or another as they prepare the ground to sell the deal to their membership. I hope however that all parties will act responsibly and think of the good of Northern Ireland ahead of narrow party interests. A deal is essential to safeguard the fragile peace we all hold so dear.”