The un-elected and unaccountable ’Northern Ireland Office’ [NIO] is a particular example of the need for urgent change. The NIO runs the six-counties almost as a private fiefdom. British Direct Rule Ministers fly in for a few hours a week, very often simply to rubber stamp decisions pre-formulated by Senior NIO officials. And too often, those who work within and for the NIO, demonstrate an unapologetic devotion to the unionist cause. In addition the hundreds of unaccountable quangos [PR: see below] are filled to overflowing with those appointed by the NIO and deemed by that body to be safe hands.
On the Orange Order:
I may not agree with the Orange Order. I may oppose its efforts to hold triumphalist marches through nationalist areas where they are not wanted, but I do respect the Order’s right to exist and I will defend their right to march. They have to learn to respect the right of other citizens to hold a contrary opinion. For that reason dialogue is very important. Regrettably, the various loyal institutions refuse to speak to Sinn Féin and most refuse to speak to nationalist residents.
On Bush, Blair and Hillsborough:
“Whatever else President Bush and Prime Minister Blair were talking about at Hillsborough they were also dealing with our peace process. So, we had an obligation to be there and to use that opportunity to talk about what is after all the most important issue for the people of Ireland. Nonetheless, I used the occasion to present both leaders with a letter outlining our total opposition to what was then the imminent invasion of Iraq”.