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Statement by Peter Hain about Northern Ireland in 2006, (30 December 2005)

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Text: Peter Hain... Page compiled: Brendan Lynn

Statement by Peter Hain, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, about Northern Ireland in 2006, (Friday 30 December 2005)


"It is essential that there is real political movement in 2006, if the Assembly elections due to be held in 2007 are to have any meaning.

Every year that passes without a locally accountable Assembly working through a power-sharing Executive, is a year in which the people of Northern Ireland have to live with a democratic deficit that cannot be justified in the United Kingdom of today.

Big decisions had to be taken in 2005 on education, infrastructure, health and public administration. Those decisions had to be taken by Direct Rule Ministers working in the best interests of Northern Ireland and its people.

There will be more big decisions to be taken in the future, not least on policing and criminal justice, and those decisions should be taken by politicians elected by those who will be most directly affected by those decisions. That is the point of devolution.

Unionists need to know that republicans are serious about the commitments given in the Good Friday Agreement that they will work through exclusively lawful means.

Republicans and nationalists need to know that unionists are serious about the commitments they have given that they will share power on a genuinely equitable basis.

They have to persuade each other that a divided past can become a shared future.

And in 2006, on the issues of unequivocal support for policing and genuine political engagement, inertia is not in anyone's interest."


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