Speaking prior to travelling to London today (Wednesday), Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey said he looked forward to the party's first engagement with new Shadow Secretary of State, Labour MP Ivan Lewis.
The West Belfast MP said, "I would be hopeful that Ivan will continue the pro-active role which Vernon Coaker MP previously fulfilled in this position. Ivan's appointment comes at an important juncture in politics here - we have come out of a bad summer marred by disputes over contentious parades, and Peter Robinson's reneging on the Maze/Long Kesh project has caused difficulties within the political institutions. There are also issues which need urgent attention, including the continuing unjust imprisonment of Martin Corey".
"However" he said, "the talks chaired by Dr. Richard Haass are ongoing, and provide an opportunity for progress on the most difficult issues. We will be urging Ivan Lewis to continue to emphasize the need for the British, as well as the Irish, governments to be engaged with the process, and to be helpful and balanced in its interventions. That could not be said of some of the recent utterances by the current Secretary of State, and we will be impressing on him the need to ensure that the government in London fulfills a positive, useful role in addressing outstanding matters and in assisting the overall process in moving forward."