Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:36 pm on 24th October 2018.

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Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Sport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales) 2:36 pm, 24th October 2018

I echo the comments of both Front Benchers on the Shankill bombing. I was 13 at the time, but I remember the incident vividly. I particularly remember the children who were killed, one of whom was also 13, which is one reason why it sticks out. My thoughts and the thoughts of my colleagues are with all those affected by the bombing and the associated attacks that followed.

I reiterate once again that we are extremely disappointed that it has come to this. We accept, rather reluctantly, that the Bill has become necessary amid the current legislative vacuum in Northern Ireland. I have just attended my first British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, and I found it an extremely useful, enjoyable and sociable event. I met new people from across the UK and the Crown dependencies to discuss the important issues we face together.

Brexit, as would be imagined, was the main topic of conversation. That being said, some of the conversations about Stormont and the restoration of the Executive were rather frustrating. Many people seem to accept that meaningful talks will not resume until after Brexit, which is ultimately why we are debating this Bill today and why we reluctantly support it. However, on behalf of the SNP, I urge the Secretary of State and all parties to get back round the table with a sense of purpose and urgency. Given the importance of the European Union to the Good Friday agreement, it is imperative that Northern Ireland’s collective voice, the voice of its elected Assembly, is heard on Brexit.