McGuinness and Hume got over far worse: Shadow SoS

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Shadow Secretary of State for the North, Tony Lloyd, has urged the immediate restoration of power-sharing at Stormont recalling that John Hume and the late Martin McGuinness overcame far worse obstacles to progress than those faced today.

“The issues faced in the past by John Hume, David Trimble, Dr. Paisley and Martin McGuinness were massively bigger than the gap that now exists between the DUP and Sinn Féin,” observed the Rochdale MP

“That is not just my opinion; I think that it would be the opinion of most ordinary folk in Northern Ireland. This is a wake-up call for everybody and a time for leadership,” he added.

Mr. Lloyd was responding to concerns raised by the DUP MP, Gregory Campbell, in the British House of Commons, over the continuing democratic deficit being suffered by the people of the North.

Mr. Campbell said that with Stormont dormant and Westminster set to withdraw into recess imminently the Northern Ireland Office needed to “ensure that the impasse does not further jeopardise the good governance of Northern Ireland”.

“People are complaining and campaigning on the basis of, ‘Let’s get something done.’

“We need a package of measures in place, as soon as the House returns in early September, to alleviate the problems real people are facing and suffering on the ground,” said Mr. Campbell.

Mr. Lloyd said: “I hope that we see a groundswell of opinion in Northern Ireland that expects centre politicians - both here in Westminster and those elected to, but not sitting in, the Assembly - to get back to work.”

Both were contributing to a debate on the Northern Ireland Budget (No. 2) Bill on Monday during, which the Secretary of State for the North, Karen Bradley, said: “The Government have been working intensely to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland since the collapse of the Executive last year.

“It is deeply regrettable that, despite efforts, the political parties in Northern Ireland have not yet reached an agreement that would enable devolved government.

“In the absence of an Executive, the Northern Ireland civil service has worked, and continues to work, with the utmost professionalism and commitment to protect and preserve public services in the interests of all communities in Northern Ireland. I commend their efforts.”

Mr. Campbell claimed that Sinn Féin were to blame for the lack of progress.

“We have done everything to try to accelerate the move towards devolved government and have had no reciprocity from Sinn Féin,” he said.

The former Shadow Secretary of State, Owen Smith, warned there was a danger the continuing stalemate would undermine the peace process.

“In recent months, the bicycle seems to be in serious danger of being left on its side on the roadside, because there is no sense of forward momentum in the peace process. There is no sense that the Government have a concerted plan to get things up and running.”