26 December 2005

Hain slams Tories over Ulster split


Edward Davie
Mon, 26 Dec 2005 00:01:00 GMT+00

Peter Hain has attacked the Tories for abandoning the cross-party approach to the Northern Ireland peace process, and has called on David Cameron to restore co-operation.

Describing the Conservatives' position as "a great shame," the Ulster secretary attacked the opposition for failing to support the government as they bid to restore devolution.

Hain is particularly angry that the Tories have been trying to block the Northern Ireland offences bill which includes controversial measures to allow 'on the run' terror suspects to escape jail.

Hain told this website: "I think there is a need for more inclusivity on the floor of the House of Commons."

And he went on: "It's not to say you can't have an argument over a detail in a bill, but when it is an essential building block to getting peace then we are entitled to their support, having backed them on similar, if not even more controversial moves."

The cabinet minister said the Conservatives' current attitude is in stark contrast to Labour's approach when John Major's government was negotiating with the IRA.

He said: "The opposition parties used to support the government, as we did when we were in opposition and John Major started talking to the IRA.

"We supported him and it was a tough thing to do, people didn't like the fact that we supported the government when the IRA had only recently being setting off bombs.

"They set off the bomb in Canary Wharf after his government started negotiating with the IRA, and we still backed the Tory's dialogue with them."

And he went on call for newly elected Conservative leader David Cameron to change his party's approach.

"I think we are entitled to expect more bi-partisan support from the opposition than we've got in recent times.

"I hope there will be a fresh approach under the new Tory leadership.

"I think it is a great shame that the bipartisan policy which helped deliver peace and stability, unparalleled peace and stability for Northern Ireland, should have been broken by the opposition in recent years," he said.

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