DUP’s Gregory Campbell and Gary Middleton unhappy with timing of Brandon Lewis Derry visit
The DUP MP claimed unionist voices would not be heard when Mr. Lewis met the Unity of Purpose group in the Guildhall because he and party colleague Gary Middleton had business at Westminster and Stormont.
“For around ten years local leaders in political and public service have met regularly in the Unity of Purpose Group to ensure that Londonderry and the wider North West had a collective voice when it came to putting forward our views on development and also in confronting those intent on bringing violence to our streets again,” said Messrs. Campbell and Middleton in a joint statement.
They said they had raised concerns last week.
“When the visit was first mooted last week a number of us who obviously wanted to be involved made it clear that Monday was not a suitable date given both Assembly and Westminster commitments for a number of representatives. Alternative dates were offered but despite this the NIO decided to proceed in any case. This has meant that there will be no elected Unionist voice at the meeting. Those in charge at the NIO need to radically re-assess their outlook and the new SoS must look again at visits like this, as the whole point of a discussion / decision making forum like UoP is that it is representative.”
An NIO spokesperson said: “Secretary of State has committed to meeting people from across the political spectrum in NI, and from every walk of life. Following his visit to Belfast last week, Brandon Lewis wanted to visit the NW at the earliest opportunity, and plans to visit other regions soon.”