The long awaited breakthrough, announced Tuesday, means that the 152-day stalemate at Stormont is over and that the governing executive will meet on Thursday of this week.
Northern Ireland first minister Peter Robinson, and deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, made the deal announcement after meeting with assembly members Tuesday morning.
“The agreement we have reached represents a very satisfactory resolution of the most difficult issues relating to the modalities of transferring power and addresses all of the expressed public concerns,” Robinson said.
The deal will include the appointment of an attorney general for the North. The pact does not have a timetable, but both parties committed themselves to completing the process. McGuinness said he hoped a justice department would be in place next year
“Significant progress has been made on these matters. We both want devolution to happen without undue delay,” McGuinness said.
The first item of business for the restored executive meetings will be the unveiling of a financial aid package to help those in the North worst hit by the international economic crisis.
The deal was welcomed by President Bush’s special envoy to Northern Ireland, Ambassador Paula Dobriansky.
“The United States welcomes today’s statements by the first and deputy first ministers in relation to the devolution of policing and justice functions. These steps concern some of the most complex and emotive issues of the peace process and we commend Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness for their political leadership,” Dobriansky said.
“We also expect that this framework will enable the restoration of scheduled meetings of the Northern Ireland Executive. We welcome the fact that political leaders in Northern Ireland can once again work in partnership for the collective good of wider society,” Dobriansky added.
Congressional Friends of Ireland chairman, Rep. Richard Neal, also hailed the development.
“The agreement reached today on the devolution of policing and justice powers was one of the last and most difficult issues to overcome in the effort to transform society in Northern Ireland. It is an important development, and one that should be welcomed by all those across the globe who want to see the power-sharing government succeed,” Neal said.
“I strongly commend the first minister and deputy first minister for the leadership they have demonstrated during this challenging period. Their patience and determination was essential in helping to produce today’s historic agreement,” Neal added.
The deal came just days after Sinn F