Record of BSoS as defender of people’s interests challenged
Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has said that those people claiming that a British Secretary of State sitting at the British Cabinet table is an effective way to represent citizens here only need to look at the recent record to see that this argument doesn’t hold water.
Mr Murphy said:
“In the days since Martin McGuinness’ London speech raising the continuing need for either the NIO or the British Secretary of State in the context of stable and functioning power sharing institutions, some politicians have sprung into action defending both institutions.
“We are told that it is vital for the people of the north that a British elected politician is sitting around the cabinet table in London representing their interests, giving them a voice. Well, let us examine that theory. Exactly what use has this voice been in recent times?
“When it came to the decision by the British Government to slash the block grant by £4bn far from being a voice for people here, Owen Patterson was slavishly following the Tory line and backing the call made by his party colleague George Osbourne.
“Likewise on welfare reform, Mr Patterson has put his Tory ideology before any concern for the impact of these policies of people living in the North.
“The reality is and always has been that the British secretary of State will put the interests of the British government and their respective political party before the interests of citizens in the six counties.
“So let us have a sensible debate on the future of both the NIO with its 175 civil servants and two Ministers and what role and function they actually play in the context of the Good Friday Agreement political institutions. It seems to me that both are a relic of a different and failed political era.”