Naomi Long MLA said: “The key to having policing and justice devolved to the Assembly is about creating political stability and confidence in the ability of the Executive and Assembly to handle these most sensitive issues in a fair and non-partisan manner. If Sinn Fein is so keen to have policing and justice devolved, they should not be eroding the confidence needed to allow this move to happen by engaging in brinkmanship.
“Sabre-rattling sends out entirely the wrong message to the public and suggests a level of political immaturity and instability which would actually undermine the case early devolution. Do they really think the public will want justice and policing devolved to an Assembly which is on the brink of a crisis?
“We want to see policing and justice powers devolved sooner rather than later. We also recognise that we need the necessary circumstances to be in place for this transition to take place. In our view, the best way to achieve that is the maintenance of stable and effective devolution in Northern Ireland. It’s also clear from the St Andrew’s Agreement that it requires the First Minister and deputy First Minister to agree that those conditions have been met and it is hard to see how threats not to nominate a partner in office for the new First Minister will help that process move forward.
“Progress will only be made on issues such as policing and the Irish Language by working them through in the context of a stable Assembly. It will not be achieved by Sinn Fein throwing the toys out of the pram.”