Durkan: Everyone knew IRA ‘ulterior nexus’ still existed

SDLP---------------   Mark Durkan MP.jpg
SDLP--------------- Mark Durkan MP.jpg

Londonderry MP Mark Durkan has told the House of Commons everyone knew an “ulterior nexus” persisted in the wings “even when the IRA had purportedly left the stage politically.”

He told MPs the SDLP had been forthright and consistent about the matter.

The former SDLP leader also accused the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, of “bullying” after she promised her Government would deal with welfare from London if the parties in Belfast don’t.

Referring to the controversy over the involvement or otherwise of the Provisional IRA in the murder of former Belfast Provisional IRA member Kevin McGuigan, Mr Durkan said: “Those vestigial networks have manifested themselves not just through apparently privatised criminal enterprise but in other ways. Those are among the issues that need to continue to be addressed, but not just by the parties.”

Mr Durkan also reacted to Mrs Villiers’ criticism of the SDLP and Sinn Féin as irresponsible for not agreeing to the implementation of welfare reform.

She had said: “I want to thank the UUP, the DUP and the Alliance for voting for financial sustainability in the Assembly. I know that it was not an easy choice and I thank them for their responsibility.”

To this Mr Durkan responded: “I point out to the Secretary of State that some of us find it difficult to conscript our colleagues to vote for something in Stormont having argued and voted against the same measures here.”

He later added: “Will the Secretary of State acknowledge that the British Government do not come to the welfare reform issue with clean hands? “The Government adopted a tactic of inducing budget stress, which in turn created a budget crisis and has now contributed to a political crisis.

“Will the Government rethink their tactics of budget bullying in relation to welfare reform, which has created some of the difficulties we now have?” he asked.

Mrs Villiers replied: “I reject the allegation that we are bullying over the budget. The Northern Ireland block grant has actually gone up in cash terms over the course of the last spending review and has come down by only about 1 per cent in real terms.

“The savings asked of the Northern Ireland Executive are considerably less than for many other aspects of the public sector in Great Britain. As for welfare, we inherited a situation in which with 1 per cent of the world’s population and 4 per cent of the world’s GDP we are paying out 7 per cent of the world’s spending on benefits.

“That is not sustainable in the long term and it had to be dealt with. We have to put welfare on a more sustainable basis and we have sought to do that with a core principle of ensuring that work always pays and that a single household cannot take more in benefits than the average family gets by going out to work. Those are both reasonable approaches to take.”