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PC15: Ireland
Let's be clear: nowhere have Labour gone out to 'blame' the RUC or to shed the IRA of any responsibility for this appalling attack, and the Tories should at least back up that assertion with a quote. 

Because unless they can, the British public should see this for what it is - a dead cat strategy to shield from their incompetence. Nobody expects moral excellence from the IRA, but they do expect operational excellence from the British government. We can and will condemn the IRA for their pursuit of violence and chaos above all, but that will not stop them in their tracks and save seventeen lives. A competent Home Secretary, however, may have been able to do that.

It's becoming increasingly clear that William Croft may be a competent at deflecting blame, but he is not that competent Home Secretary with a complete disregard for self reflection and learning from this disastrous mission.
I am pleased to announce that the leaders of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats have accepted the Prime Minister's invitation to begin negotiations on a joint declaration of principles and commitments on securing a safe and prosperous future for Northern Ireland. I'll repeat what I have said many times over the last few days: all of us, no matter our political party, owe it Northern Ireland and the whole of the United Kingdom to unite behind our common desire to protect our Union and guarantee every British person's right to a life free from terror and uncertainty. 

It is my express hope that these negotiations will result in an iron clad commitment, signed by each party, that will unite our country against the terror of the IRA and in resolute dedication to protecting the wellbeing and security of the people of Northern Ireland.
I’m not privy to the discussions between the Home Secretary and my own leader, but once again they have let his incompetence and lack of knowledge on the fragile state of Northern Ireland show in the House. William Croft wants peace. Fantastic. He also wants Northern Ireland solidified indefinitely as a constituent nation of the United Kingdom with seemingly no ifs, ands or buts. That’s wonderful. 

It is too bad these fundamental aims on a policy level are incompatible.

I hope that a consensus between all parties on the issue of Northern Ireland can be reached. And, more importantly, a consensus with communities within Northern Ireland. But we need policy that is achievable, not snake skin salesman solutions William Croft wants to sell to preserve his damaged reputation.
Recognizing that the will of the majority of people of Northern Ireland is to remain in the United Kingdom, while also committing to always honor their eternal right to self determination, are not mutually exclusive goals. Indeed it was the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, signed by Britain and Ireland and hailed as a major step towards achieving a lasting peace, that recognized that it is the "present wish of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland" to see no change in legal status and to remain apart of the Union. The Government is working very hard and in good faith to reach an agreement with our colleagues across the aisle, but any agreement we commit to must recognize the fundamental truth that at present the people of Northern Ireland wish to be part of the United Kingdom. Their wish must be respected, and they must be guaranteed the right to always determine their own future whatever that future may be.
Britain leads in the World under the Conservatives, that has been the message of the last decade. For the first time in a long time the British and Irish police worked together to tackle the scourge of international terrorism under the Provisional Irish Republican Army and we captured one of the most senior ring leaders for interrogation and trial. That's what this Government is about, working with international governments to create a safer and more prosperous World. We've seen it all over the planet, and now we're seeing it in the fight against domestic terror too.
The seizure and decommission of weapons used on both sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland is of paramount importance to this Government; it is one of the main motivations behind the recent RUC operations carried out in border towns. During our ongoing negotiations with Labour and the Liberal Democrats as to the declaration of commitments we plan to release, I was very happy to see that Alex Cardigan proposed the inclusion of specific language aimed at decommissioning weapons. On this issue, the Liberal Democrat leader is spot on: we must deprive all terrorist organizations of the weapons they use to wreak havoc, and doing so must be central to our approach in Northern Ireland. As Home Secretary I endorse this approach, and will do my level best to ensure Mr. Cardigan's recommendation makes it into the final version of the declaration of commitments to secure a lasting peace in Northern Ireland. 

To give the people of Northern Ireland the stability, security, and prosperous future they deserve, all of us must be willing to work across the aisle and unite behind our Union and Northern Ireland. I commend the Liberal Democrats for doing just that, and look forward to continuing to work with both them and Labour on this critical issue.
The people of Northern Ireland require, and deserve, certainty that whatever in the next election peace, security, and democracy are watchwords of future policy. That is why I called a cross-party meeting to make it clear through a declaration of principles: the IRA will not win, the voters will decide the future, and the UK will not hesitate to take the action required to ensure this. The Government I lead is committed to protecting Northern Ireland’s right to determine its own future by democratic means, while recognising that the desire of the people right now is for Northern Ireland to remain at the heart of the UK. This is something that we are pushing for in our cross-party negotiations to underpin future policy, and I hope that we can find agreement around that soon.
It has been incredibly rewarding to work with the Conservatives and Labour, as part of good faith cross-party discussions on Northern Ireland, in the Privy Council. This style of compromising, co-operative politics is a change from the usual punch and judy show that our electoral system brings - perhaps it is a good guideline for what we could have, a more moderate politics, one which listens a bit more, and one with proportional representation. At any rate, I am very proud that Liberal Democrat proposals to include a specific, clear commitment to the multilateral decommissioning of weapons are part of the document, and that we have been what I hope is a good influence. It is vital that we avoid mission creep in these talks, and that we get a commitment that is focused on the peace process, and how we can make a real, sizeable difference to hundreds of thousands of lives in Northern Ireland. I look forward to getting back to it, and hope we can get an agreement for all parties to include in their next manifesto.
I'm extremely proud that Liberal Democrats have played a constructive role in putting together a document that - as it stands - makes bold, new commitments to the peace process, and to a brighter future in Northern Ireland. This style of politics, though it hasn't been easy getting everyone to agree, can serve as an example of how we don't have to settle for the usual punch and judy show, and can have grown up discussions on the big issues, and find common ground. If we get Mr Myerscrough and Mr McCrimmon to sign, alongside my own signature, then we will be able to go into the next election with a renewed vigour and sense of clarity on an issue that simply has to have an agreed-upon solution across the major parties.
Isn't this closed?

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