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Governments partisan and disengaged on the North – Murphy

7 September, 2014 - by Conor Murphy

Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy said British secretary of state Theresa Villiers must end her government's partisan approach to dealing with problems in the political process in the North.

And the Newry Armagh MP said that the approach of Irish Foreign Affairs minister Charlie Flanagan to the difficulties in the North have more to do with his own party's narrow electoral considerations in the South.

Conor Murphy said:

“Theresa Villiers’ speech to the British Irish Association was the latest crude attempt by the NIO to absolve the British government of responsibility for the current problems in the political process.

“The British government’s refusal to endorse the Haass/O’Sullivan proposals on flags, parading and the legacy of the past has provided cover for unionists to walk away from a solution.

“Her response to a unionist walk-out from all-party leaders’ talks over their demand for an Orange march in North Belfast has been to offer them fresh concessions.

"Theresa Villiers is well aware that the only blockages to talks taking place is coming from political unionism. The British government’s refusal to honour its own commitments has emboldened that intransigence.

“It is a disgrace that Ms Villiers should also attempt to draw an equivalence between failure to make progress on the issues of flags, parading and the legacy of the past due to unionist refusal to embrace compromise, and the defence of the welfare state through opposition to vicious Tory welfare cuts on the basis of social justice.

“It is her government which seeks to impose Thatcherite cuts on those unionist and nationalist citizens least well off to fend for themselves. Sinn Féin and others will not accept this attack on the most vulnerable in our society.

“The British were not by-standers. The current deep political impasse can only be resolved when the British government ends its one-sided approach to helping address the key issues.”

Mr Murphy also rejected comments made by the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, Charlie Flanagan that Sinn Féin was 'disengaged' in the North.

"Charlie Flanagan's use of the term 'disengaged' far more accurately describes the position of the Irish and British Governments in relation to the North and outstanding issues.

“Mr Flanagan seems to forget that Sinn Féin compromised in talks and signed up to the Haass proposals on flags, parades and dealing with past.

“Minister Flanagan's dishonest and inaccurate portrayal of current difficulties in the political process in the North are deeply unhelpful and, I suspect, have more to do with his own party's narrow electoral considerations in the South.”

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