Speeches sourced from the Labour party’s online archive More…

Vernon Coaker MP, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, responding to the Northern Ireland Office's consultation on the NI Assembly and Executive, said:

"Labour supports reviewing the effectiveness of the devolved structures in Northern Ireland. But getting the economy moving, tackling unemployment and creating jobs and growth are our top priorities for Northern Ireland, and they should be Owen Paterson's too.
"The Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly is just over a year in to its second full-term. We should not be complacent about that. Yet Owen Paterson gave an ill-judged and unhelpful speech in Dublin last month where he outlined his views on how the Executive had under-performed and how the Assembly wasn't working. His criticism was largely unwarranted and unnecessary, and his proposals were mostly premature and ill-thought out.

"Rather than causing division, he should be working in partnership with the Executive and Assembly to look at how they, and the Northern Ireland Office, can work more effectively individually and collectively.

"But he is right to say that there are serious issues around the transparency of political donations and about double-jobbing that need to be addressed. So the timing of this announcement, in the middle of the summer break, is unfortunate. Parliament and the Assembly do not return for over a fortnight. Many individuals will be away and organisations closed for the holidays. He needs to make sure that everyone who would want to contribute knows that they can."

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