Northern Ireland: Political Situation

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 12:43 pm on 8th September 2015.

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Photo of Nigel Dodds Nigel Dodds Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Reform and Constitutional Issues), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs), DUP Westminster Leader 12:43 pm, 8th September 2015

As a result of the Chief Constable’s assessment arising out of the recent events in Northern Ireland, does the Secretary of State agree that it cannot be business as usual as far as the Northern Ireland political institutions are concerned? The Democratic Unionist party, speaking on behalf of many thousands of people who actually elect us in Northern Ireland, is very clear that this matter cannot be swept under the carpet, fudged or ignored. We are not prepared to continue as though nothing has happened. Murder has happened, carried out by those who are linked to a party of Government. Just imagine if that were to happen here—that a party in Government was linked to a paramilitary organisation still in existence whose members carried out murder on the streets of the United Kingdom. It is an intolerable situation and it must be sorted out at the talks. Serious consequences will flow from failure, striking at the very existence of devolution.

Does the Secretary of State accept the need to deal also with the criminality of the provisional republican movement and the paramilitaries? Does she also accept that one of the options—she has hinted at this already—that she may be forced to consider is to suspend the Assembly and the political institutions in order in the long run to restore and maintain any hope of the long-term viability of devolution and the Assembly?

The talks must also be about the implementation of the Stormont House agreement, not a renegotiation. I am referring to the remarks of the former Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for North Shropshire

(Mr Paterson). Instead of issuing a blanket condemnation of all Northern Ireland politicians, he and other Members of this House should realise there are parties in Northern Ireland who are prepared to move forward, make the difficult decisions and implement welfare reform, and that it is Sinn Fein and, sad to say, the SDLP that have blocked those decisions.

Let us be very clear about where the blame lies. It does not lie with all the politicians and political parties of Northern Ireland. This is now about getting on with implementing the Stormont House agreement, which all the parties, including Sinn Fein, signed up to. That is what must happen in these talks, or else we are going to have a very serious situation indeed.