National Crime Agency motion is defeated

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A motion calling for the proposed National Crime Agency (NCA) to be allowed to operate in Northern Ireland was defeated on a cross-community vote, on 4 February 2013.

Tom Elliott, who proposed the Ulster Unionist motion, said it was about tackling people-trafficking, drugs and paedophiles.

He criticised the SDLP and Sinn Fein for their opposition to the NCA, saying it was based on "an emotional nationalist, republican, green agenda".

Paul Givan of the DUP welcomed the motion. He said it was "ultimately about the safety of the people".

He said the SDLP were "standing on the side of the criminal".

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said his party supported policing.

He was concerned that the NCA would have "the power of secrecy".

"What we don't want is to have a force outside a force," Mr Kelly added.

The North Belfast MLA said it was about "undermining the PSNI and Patten, not about supporting it".

Alban Maginness of the SDLP said:

"We're not against the NCA, but what we are for is Patten."

He called on the British government to go back to the drawing-board and redraw the legislation so that there could be accountability.

He quoted the journalist, Peter Hitchens, who had described the NCA as "ant-British" because the concept of a single national police force was anathema.

Stewart Dickson of Alliance supported the motion.

He said Northern Ireland was being targeted by international crime gangs.

"We cannot reject the offer being made by NCA, and we cannot afford to do it ourselves," he added.

The Justice Minister, David Ford, said he supported the introduction of a legislative consent motion to allow the NCA to operate in Northern Ireland, and he therefore supported today's motion.

He listed a number of concessions offered to him by the Westminster government with regard to the accountability of the NCA in its operations Northern Ireland.

The motion was defeated on a cross-community vote.

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