Labour's Former Northern Ireland Secretary Issues Stark Warning To Tories

11 June 2017, 10:41

"The Good Friday Agreement peace process is like carrying a tray of champagne over high wires, suspended between two mountains."

Lord Peter Hain, Labour's Northern Ireland Secretary between 2005-2007, issued a warning to the Tories about disrupting peace in Northern Ireland by 'taking sides' with the DUP. 

He told Andrew Pierce: "My concern, as a former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, I could not help negotiate the deal that we saw Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley come into power together, and maintain that under other leaders for 10 years. 

"Without being trusted by both of them, without being trusted by the DUP leadership, and the Sinn Fein leadership, and as it happens, all the other parties as well.

"You simply cannot deal, as a British Prime Minister, as a British Secretary of State, with the parties, and make progress, build confidence, and keep the whole show on the road, and moving forward unless you are genuinely non-partisan." 

He went on: "Inevitably, if Theresa May is dependent on her very survival as Prime Minister, and the survival of her government, on DUP votes, then when it comes to getting the Stormont government back up and running, and the assembly functioning, and neither of those things will happen now for months. 

"It's very dangerous, politically, to have it in suspension. If she's not seen, and her Secretary of State is not seen, genuinely, as neutral, non-partisan interlocutor, negotiator, in the process, and I can't see how Stormont cab be resurrected."

He went onto say that his feelings were non-partisan, adding: "I'm simply saying that from direct experience of dealing with all the individuals of the parties involved."

Lord Hain added: "I'm not saying that the troubles will necessarily erupt again, or Northern Ireland slip back into all that horror, but I am saying that the Northern Ireland peace process, the Good Friday Agreement peace process is like carrying a tray of champagne over high wires suspended between two mountains.

"It's a very delicate process, it requires careful attention...frankly we've not had any of those things under Theresa May's government."

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