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PC16: Cross-Party Agreement Breakdown
#1
What do you think about the breakdown of cross-party talks on Ireland?

Closes at 23:59pm UK on 27th August
Redgrave | A-Team
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#2
This afternoon it was my hope to watch as the Prime Minister stood alongside the leaders of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties as they announced a set of cross-party commitments aimed at securing a lasting peace in Northern Ireland. The declaration, the language of which my office is now making public, included what I had hoped would be universally acceptable actions that would bind each major party to prioritizing peace and defeating terrorism. Unfortunately, James McCrimmon and Ruan Preston have refused to sign the document on behalf of the Labour Party, and decided to leak its contents to the press.

I am not going to attempt to explain why the Labour Party couldn't get on board with these commonsense proposals, but I will say I am deeply disappointed. Despite failing to win Labour's support, I can confirm that the Government will honor all 5 pledges included in the declaration. In that regard, we have already made progress: a previous draft of the declaration included language on proscribing the Ulster Defense Association a terrorist organization, which the Government has done just yesterday. The remaining 5 pledges, from pledging to bring all relevant parties together to work towards establishing peace to protecting the democratic will of the people of Northern Ireland, all remain top priorities for this Government.

I'd like to take a moment to thank the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Alex Cardigan, for his work in drafting these proposals. His proposal of requiring each party to pledge to work towards the decommissioning of weapons on both sides of the border was a vital addition that strengthened the declaration greatly. Given that we were able to agree on this cross-party declaration, I am confident that we will be able to continue to work together on this issue despite our other political differences.

Despite this set back, I can promise you this: every day this Government has the privilege to serve on behalf of the British people we will continue to condemn the evil that is the IRA unequivocally, guarantee the right to a safe and prosperous life to all people in Northern Ireland, and endeavor to secure a future free of terror.

And most importantly: we will never, ever treat the lives of the people of Northern Ireland with the disdain and disrespect shown to them by the Labour Shadow Ministers who cared more about leaking information to the press than sitting down and hammering out a solution.

(reposted)
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#3
It is disappointing that the party that accused our dead police officers of "incompetence" have now taken it upon themselves to sabotage cross-party negotiations through their malicious leak. The Government proscribed the Ulster Defence Association, we fostered an agreement which the Lib Dems accepted, Labour just had to go and torpedo the whole thing to score political points.

The Tories and the Liberal Democrats sat around the table and talked, we thrashed out a cross-party deal which would have achieved a great many good things and saved countless lives. Labour ran from the talks, they ran to the press, and now their boss runs to a press conference because to them this is all about politics, saving face, and hurting the Government, no matter how many citizens of Ulster and Ireland they harm in the process.
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#4
The Government was pushing for a cross-party commitment to increase penalties for being a member of the IRA, and tackle other terrorism in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, that could not be secured. I’m grateful for the work of the Liberal Democrats in supporting efforts to create an agreement. While we proscribed the Ulster Defence Association and condemned their actions through law, the Labour Party specifically refused to agree to language that unequivocally condemned the IRA. I’m deeply saddened by the inability of the Labour Party to support cross-party, public condemnation of the terrorist acts, which have killed hundreds of innocent citizens, committed by the IRA. However, this Government is clear: peace and security in Northern Ireland must come first, and the IRA must be condemned by all decent people in this country.
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#5
Labour asked for time to consider the deal away from privy council terms, the Government accepted this request in good faith so that the party's MPs could be consulted openly and without fear of leaking confidential information, Labour turned that around into a leak to the press. Labour have literally demanded the lifting of confidentiality from a set of negotiations simply so they can leak a distorted view of it to the press in a calculated attempt to destabilise Northern Ireland and torpedo any chance of a swift cross-party commitment to a lasting peace agreement. Talk about putting politics above country, and indeed the lives of our citizens.
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#6
The Conservatives entered these negotiations in good faith, and were ready to sign onto the agreement we reached. The Liberal Democrats entered these negations in good faith, and were ready to sign onto the agreement we reached. Labour, however, decided to air their grievances to the press by leaking contents of the agreement in an attempt to undermine the negotiations. An issues as sensitive and important as Northern Ireland should be treated with the utmost care and caution. People's lives literally hang in the balance, and are genuinely impacted by every decision made in Westminster. If Labour had any decency, or any care about the impact of their actions, they would have thought twice about using the press to anonymously leak their dissatisfaction when they know full well how tumultuous the situation in Northern Ireland it is. 

I'm very disappointed these negotiations failed as a result of these leaks, and I am even more disappointed that partisan politicking got in the way of achieving progress.
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#7
Let's be frank: Labour condemns the IRA unequivocally and unreservedly, as all the main parties in the UK do. That the Tories thought that they needed cross-party talks to condemn the IRA says more about them than about anyone else. For us, these talks were about the only real victory in this conflict: peace and an end to the violence. And the reality is that to achieve peace, we need to strengthen the peaceful forces, deny the terrorists ammunition for a propaganda offensive and therefore condemn all violence even-handedly and unreservedly. This is the argument Labour has made consistently - it was one that the Conservatives accepted before suddenly and unaccountably going back on their commitment. I'll leave it up to them to explain why they felt that having started to condemn the UDA as well as the IRA by proscribing the organisation, they should suddenly stop when it came to this cross-party declaration setting the stage for peace. But with or without them, let this be clear: Labour's policy is to be tough on terrorism by being smart on terrorism, and work towards a lasting peace. This was a necessary step we'd take and which this government has so far actively refused to take.
the Rt Hon. Ruan Preston MP
Labour MP for Midlothian (1983-present)
Shadow Home Secretary (1990-present)
Progressive | Biography | 2 XP | Safe Pair of Hands

"The true purpose of democratic socialism and, therefore, the true aim of the Labour Party, is the creation of a genuinely free society, in which the fundamental objective of government is the protection and extension of individual liberty."
- Neil Kinnock and Roy Hattersley, Democratic Socialist Aims & Values
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#8
Labour demanded that the UDA be added to the list of proscribed terrorist organisations, that is not a crime in fact it is a perfectly valid, sensible suggestion, indeed it is a suggestion that this Government actioned with the Home Secretary adding the UDA to the list of proscribed terrorist organisations earlier this year. That Labour refused to reciprocate this move with a statement explicitly condemning the IRA, the terrorists who murdered RUC and Irish officers, officers Labour's Shadow Home Secretary described as "incompetent" tells you everything you need to know about this precise situation.
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#9
The facts of the matter are simple: the Government took swift action to proscribe the UDA, while Labour couldn’t sign a cross-party agreement to condemn the IRA. They claim they want to be ‘smart on terrorism’ but can’t even do the basics: sign an agreement that condemn terrorism, that promotes weapon decommissioning, that states clearly Northern Ireland decides its own future, and that commits to working with all parties on peace and security in the nation. It is that simple.
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#10
I see the Conservative Party spin machine is in full swing. Pity it isn't true. What is true is that I asked the Home Secretary to clear up reports of incompetence in the Boyle operation, incompetence that if the reports were true has endangered the lives of the very officers the Tories are now using to play political games. These officers fell in the line of duty protecting us against vile terrorists and I condemn the callous violence of the IRA thugs who killed them. The Tories should be ashamed for playing these political games over the backs of their sacrifices.
the Rt Hon. Ruan Preston MP
Labour MP for Midlothian (1983-present)
Shadow Home Secretary (1990-present)
Progressive | Biography | 2 XP | Safe Pair of Hands

"The true purpose of democratic socialism and, therefore, the true aim of the Labour Party, is the creation of a genuinely free society, in which the fundamental objective of government is the protection and extension of individual liberty."
- Neil Kinnock and Roy Hattersley, Democratic Socialist Aims & Values
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