10 Mar 2010

Belfast votes in favour of justice power transfer

9:08 am on 10 March 2010

The Northern Ireland Assembly has passed a motion clearing the way for the full transfer of police and justice powers from London to Belfast next month.

The vote, which paves the way for Northern Ireland to have its first justice minister by 12 April, was passed by 88 in favour and 17 against.

It was the first major hurdle for the Hillsborough Castle Agreement signed at the beginning of February between Ireland's power-sharing partners, the nationalist Sinn Fein and the loyalist Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

A failure to get a deal last month would have brought down the government and analysts said the continued stability following Tuesday's "yes" vote, should keep the coalition in place until elections are due next year.