Belfast Telegraph

Direct rule powers renewed

By Brian Walker, London Editor
03 March 2005

The House of Lords has completed the procedure for formally renewing direct rule for six months and extending the membership of district policing partnerships beyond the council elections on May 5.

DPP members who lose their council seats in the poll will remain members of the partnerships, according to the Leader of the Lords, Baroness Amos.

Unionist Lord Kilclooney said he would oppose a further renewal of direct rule unless Government took a decision on the future of the Assembly, following the failure of the interparty talks in December.

"You cannot go on for ever retaining an Assembly, Members of the Legislative Assembly and heads, with salaries and expenses. The Assembly has been heavily criticised by the public in Northern Ireland. I have defended it up to now.

"But the time is running out if you do not use the elected Assembly for some purpose in, for example, scrutinising the legislation before it is approved in this Parliament.

"If that does not happen, I fear that in six months' time the Assembly itself will have to be closed down as well."

Fresh support for the policing partnerships came from independent peer Baroness May Blood.

Peers also extended to the province, stronger rules already applying to England and Wales, which allow disabled children or those with special needs, to be educated in mainstream schools and colleges.

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