I have had discussions with the five main parties in Northern Ireland since the local elections, and they have all reaffirmed their commitment to restoring a power-sharing Executive and other political institutions set out in the Belfast agreement.
As someone who is half Northern Irish—in fact, proudly half Northern Irish—I am well aware of the profound sectarian issues that have scarred the nation for many hundreds of years. Consequently, I was delighted to see that the party that did best at the local elections, with the highest increase, was the non-sectarian Alliance party. Would the Secretary of State share with me the joy at seeing that tremendous non-sectarian result?
The message I took from the local elections is that what people on the doorstep want is restored devolved Government as soon as possible and that is what I am working to deliver.
Does my right hon. Friend share my hope that, having got the local elections under our belts and on the cusp of the European elections—with both of those out of the way—a really firm, positive focus can be placed by all parties on restoring the devolved Assembly in Stormont?
I know that the parties in Northern Ireland are determined that they will do all they can to deliver restored devolved Government. That is what is best for the people of Northern Ireland and it is what the people of Northern Ireland want. But this will not be easy—there are challenges—and I ask that we all offer our support to the parties in Northern Ireland to help them to take those difficult decisions.
Would the Secretary of State like to comment on or make an assessment of the election of Councillor Gary Donnelly—former spokesperson for the 32 County Sovereignty Movement—in the electoral area where the murder of innocent by-stander Lyra McKee took place and where police and bystanders were unapologetically and indiscriminately fired towards; and what progress has been made in that murder investigation and the process as well?
The hon. Gentleman is a fan of the dash and the semi-colon.
Very good in the use of a sentence. I repeat that the lesson I took from the local elections was that people want restored devolved Government as soon as possible.