Vernon Coaker MP, Labour’s Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, responding to media reports that the Northern Ireland Secretary has written to the Northern Ireland political parties about talks to deal with the past, said:
“Labour welcomes the Secretary of State’s response to calls for him to prioritise dealing with the past and legacy issues. We have consistently pressed him to start to address these highly sensitive and difficult matters.
“Three months ago, the Northern Ireland Assembly requested that he convene all-party talks on these issues. Labour supported that call at the time and repeated it most recently last week. We are glad that we have eventually seen some movement from the Secretary of State in response, but we do need clarity about what exactly he is proposing.
“Labour’s view is that we can only agree on how to deal with the past by having an inclusive process. The UK Government, the political parties in Northern Ireland, the Irish Government, the Commission for Victims and Survivors and of course victims and survivors themselves have a crucial role to play in that. It will not be easy, but the first step is to get the political parties talking to each other about how to make progress. It is not clear if that is what Owen Paterson has proposed.
“Labour will continue to encourage the Secretary of State to prioritise dealing with the past, and support him by working together and with others to find a way forward on this critical issue.”