Doug Beattie MC, Ulster Unionist MLA for Upper Bann, has stated that the current political crisis can trace its origins back to the decisions taken following the St Andrews Agreement, where a former Secretary of State, Peter Hain, bore responsibility.
Doug Beattie MC said:
“While Peter Hain is right to say that there is drift in the process and that HMG has responsibilities, he needs to recognise that the government of which he was part has contributed to today’s crisis.
“We all can see that devolution at Stormont could slip through our fingers if we are not careful, but this crisis can trace its origins back to the decisions that were taken following the St Andrews Agreement.
“Suspected terrorists have been given letters of comfort (as was clear in the Downey case surrounding the Hyde Park bombing) and the Royal Prerogative of Mercy has been extended to an unknown number to terrorists. This has destroyed public confidence in the judicial process with people believing rightly that more was done for IRA sympathisers while members of the security forces come under particular focus.
“Furthermore the Belfast Agreement was changed to accommodate Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness so that the election of First and deputy First Minister was no longer the job of the Assembly on a cross community vote, but a straight first past the post for the largest party. All subsequent elections have been based on the line that if you do not vote for DUP you get Sinn Fein. This would not have occurred under the Agreement terms. This was to accommodate Ian Paisley who did not want to vote in a joint resolution in the Assembly for himself and Martin McGuinness.
“As a result of all of this, the Government of Tony Blair took a calculated decision to destroy the parties of the centre to accommodate those who either opposed the Agreement or had used terrorism to further their political ambitions.
“So Peter Hain needs to look at his own role in all of this before issuing condemnations of the current governments.”