Tuesday, 11 June 2019
Northern Ireland: Statements
I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate on Northern Ireland and its structures. This debate arises from the attempt in the past week or two to get the institutions back up and running and the discussions held in Belfast with the various parties to try to do so. Ultimately, the institutions must be got going again, and the Irish Government will have to be very strong in arguing for their reinstatement. Ultimately, the flaw in the Good Friday Agreement is that the British are seen as being neutral, when all their recent actions, including the DUP's support of the Government in Westminster, show they are not neutral and never have been neutral. That is the crux of the problem at all stages in the North as we now see it. The only way to get around this and defeat it is to get the structures and the assembly back up and running. Perhaps through the outworkings of that at some stage in the future we will see a future for politics in the Six Counties and a way forward might be shown. Our Government must be very strong in arguing with the British Government and putting its responsibilities straight on the line. It is part of the problem. It must be part of the solution. It must live up to the agreements, including international agreements, it has made. That is vitally important.
A number of speakers have mentioned the tragic murder of Lyra McKee during the disturbances in Derry some time ago as being very difficult. The sad part about it is that the getting together again of the institutions will not, very quickly anyway, resolve any of the reasons she was killed. This is tragic, but the only option left open to the Governments is to ensure that the institutions are got up and running. The only thing we can do is to ensure that the parties we can influence here are on board to get the institutions going again. As a House we must be sure that our Government is strong in forcing the British Government to act in this regard. That is the key to this. If our Government can force the British Government to face up to its responsibilities, we might see the institutions up and running again and then - unfortunately, a very long way down the road - the causes of the conflict reduced somewhat. Ultimately, however, the only way we can reduce the cause of the conflict is by getting the British out entirely of the Six Counties. Then we can deal with the issues as they relate to ourselves and a 32-county Ireland. That is ultimately the only way in which this will be resolved once and for all.