Monday, December 26, 2005

Hain versus the Tories on N Ireland

There's an interesting debate going between Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary and the Tories over the issue of the "on the runs."

Hain's argument is ...Hain's argument is that the Tories should mimic the stance Labour adopted during the Major years:

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

"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 Tories' dialogue with them."

But the Tories are replying that the issue is such that they can and should go against this spirit of bi-partisanship:
The Conservatives continued to operate a bipartisan policy "wherever possible", he added.

"But on this bill we are looking at something that would allow people who have committed barbaric murders, things like the Enniskillen Poppy Day massacre, to go free without serving one day in prison or even appearing themselves in court," Mr Lidington told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It was not in the original Belfast Agreement, it is opposed not just by Conservatives, but by Liberal Democrats, by both Unionist parties and nationalist parties like the SDLP in Northern Ireland."

Mr Hain was choosing "very weak ground on which to try to pick a major fight", he added.

(Interesting side note, with Cameron's ascension is it just me, or have the Tories become a force again such that the word "bi-partisan" has meaning once again?)

I need to ponder this before I declare on which side I fall ...

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