Theresa Villiers replaces Owen Paterson as Northern Ireland Secretary

Theresa Villiers replaces Owen Paterson as Northern Ireland Secretary in the cabinet reshuffle. With law degrees from Bristol and Oxford, the self-confessed workaholic worked as a barrister and lecturer before being elected as an MEP for London in 1999. Six years later in 2005 she swapping Brussels for Westminster when elected as MP for Chipping Barnet. As a result of a legal challenge, which the government intends to defend robustly, we have not yet signed the contract with First West … Read more

“As we stated at the election, however, any changes will require the agreement of parties in the Assembly.”

As UTV reports, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, has launched a public consultation on measures which “could improve the operation of the Northern Ireland Assembly.”  Including how the institutions could “evolve over time into a more normal system that incorporates a government and opposition”.  From the introduction to the consultation document [pdf file] This consultation therefore highlights four key areas about which there has been debate in recent years in Northern Ireland.  The current Parliamentary Boundary Review is … Read more

Cameron: “it’s local politicians who have to deliver on that”.

Prime Minister David Cameron was in Northern Ireland today, as part of a UK-wide tour to promote the Olympics.  But despite their recent complaints, neither the NI First and deputy First Ministers appear to have been able to schedule a meeting.  According to Martina Purdy, The first and deputy first ministers were not on hand to meet the prime minister as both are on holiday. [Both!?  At the same time? – Ed]  Indeed.  And, as I said in slightly different circumstances, that’s why you … Read more

“the learned judge who granted bail [] did not have the power to do so in the particular circumstances of this case”

Despite earlier reports that the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, had ordered Martin Corey’s re-arrest following the judicial review ruling for unconditional bail in the case, it appears he merely sought a stay while an appeal was prepared.  The Belfast Telegraph notes the Appeal Court’s initial ruling A judge who granted unconditional bail to a convicted double murderer did not have the power to do so, the Court of Appeal has ruled. Martin Corey is now expected to remain … Read more

NI Secretary of State blocks Martin Corey release

Sinn Féin’s Raymond McCartney, deputy chair of the Assembly’s Justice Committee [and noted plagiarist! – Ed], may have welcomed today’s Belfast court ruling that the Parole Commissioners had breached former Provisional IRA member Martin Corey’s human rights in refusing to release him, and ordering his release on unconditional bail.  But the Guardian reports that Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Owen Paterson has intervened.  Corey had been released on licence in 1992 after serving 19 years for the murder of two policemen.  Former NI Secretary … Read more

“We cannot impose; this has to come from within Northern Ireland.”

Nothing in politics, nor in life, is “inevitable” [except death and taxes! – Ed] Indeed.  That includes a “border poll” – despite the protestations of the former International Representative for West Belfast, then temporary Crown Steward, now Louth TD, and Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams.  The Irish Times reports his latest outburst “A border poll is inevitable. Mr Patterson knows this. It is only a matter of timing,” said the Sinn Fein leader. “By definition that will come when the people of … Read more

“The Reviewer states that the residual terrorist threat has continued on broadly the same level as 2010…”

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, MP, has published the Fourth Annual Report [pdf file] of Robert Whalley CB, Independent Reviewer of the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 .  From Owen Paterson’s statement The report highlights the continuing security threat posed by residual terrorist groups, the activity of organised criminals and incidents of public disorder.  The Reviewer comments on the importance of the powers under the 2007 Act in dealing with this broad range of security … Read more

Suddenly everyone wants to be an Ulster Unionist!

Fearghal McKinney chairing a panel at the UUP conference

First it was the Secretary of State Owen Paterson … … and then SDLP vice-chair Fearghal McKinney. Everyone wants to be branded as an Ulster Unionist at their conference this morning in Armagh! Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology and the occasional rant about life. On Slugger, … Read more

Cameron’s decision on Finucane case insults family, betrays us all

When a lawyer is murdered in any country, it should be a matter of great public concern, seen rightly as an attack on the entire legal system. When there is clear evidence pointing towards the collusion of a range of agents of the State in that murder, then the mood should become one of national outrage. When the killing, alleged collusion and cover-up is happening not in Latin America or Russia, but within the UK, then one might expect that … Read more

Paterson on stand by for Defence?

I know Liam Fox is in the job, and rumours of his immanent departure may be exaggerated, but as a fellowright winger in the cabinet, our own Secretary of State, Owen Paterson it seems is the favoured son of the right should the Secretary of State for Defence have to step down. They argue that he’s needed to maintain political balance within the coalition cabinet. It may also suit Mr Cameron to keep a right winger camped on the Military … Read more

Meanwhile, in Outer Mongolia…

If you were wondering where the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, was [You were?! – Ed], he’s been in Mongolia  [In a yurt! – Ed].  A “ger” actually.  The NI Secretary of State is one of 23 riders, including his wife Ruth Paterson, who have taken part in the third Adventurists’ Mongol Derby – a 1,000 km multi-horse race over 10 days on the Mongolian steppes which began on the 6th August using “around 1000 semi-wild Mongolian horses” the Adventurists “select … Read more

Life Sentence Review Commission deny Brendan Lillis release

There’s an ongoing campaign for the release of former Provisional IRA member, Brendan Lillis, on compassionate grounds.  But the BBC report that the Life Sentence Review Commission have just confirmed the Prison Service’s view that there were not sufficient grounds to justify his release.  From the BBC report Republican prisoner Brendan Lillis will not be released on compassionate grounds, the Life Sentence Review Commission has decided. Mr Lillis, who suffers from a severe arthritic condition, was sentenced to life in 1977 on explosives … Read more

Paterson: “The outgoing Chief Commissioner and Commissioners have made a valuable contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights in Northern Ireland”

The BBC notes the Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson’s announcement of the appointment of the 8 new members of the NI Human Rights Commission.  And, with the possible exception of the replacement for Monica McWilliams as Chief Commissioner, Professor Michael O’Flaherty, what a fine collection of legal minds special interest groups they represent.  Owen Paterson’s press release contains brief summaries of the appointees’ careers. Professor Michael O’Flaherty holds the Chair in Applied Human Rights and is Co-Director of the Human Rights Law … Read more

“Many will be expecting an inventory to be included in the report.”

Delayed until after the Assembly elections, today, as the BBC reports, the final reports of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) and the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) were published. On the final IMC report [pdf file] the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, said As the IMC themselves note, whilst the Commission has completed its remit, the security position In Northern Ireland is far from ideal. As the violence in a part of East Belfast recently revealed, there remain those … Read more

“it is necessary to extend the Non-Jury Trial system at this time…”

In March 2010 the then-Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins announced a “comprehensive review [], including a full public consultation” of the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 provisions for non-jury trials “before it next falls to be renewed in July 2011” – those provisions had previously been extended in 2009. Today the NI Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, announced that he is “laying before Parliament an Order to extend the Non-Jury trial provisions for a further period of two years”.  From the NI Secretary of State’s … Read more

“it’s something that certainly never happened under the stewardship of Tony Blair or Gordon Brown.”

The visit by the British Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, to Stormont today may have come as a surprise to the press [and the NI Labour Party… – Ed], but the Northern Ireland First and deputy First Ministers were ready with their latest whinge.  Apparently the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, isn’t prepared to meet them just to listen to their special little pleading. From the report Also accusing the coalition British government of backtracking on financial commitments made during the peace … Read more

“they have bought into the system and there is no going back for them”

In the Belfast Telegraph Liam Clarke provides a useful corrective to the more excitable commenters’ response to Secretary of State Owen Paterson’s recent remarks about a potential future Northern Ireland First Minister.  From the Belfast Telegraph article If you forgot the context, the soundbite could almost be taken as a call to vote Sinn Fein in order to copperfasten progress, but everyone knows that isn’t what Mr Paterson meant. He was making two other points. The first was that, if Sinn Fein … Read more

“Until such time as locally owned arrangements can be found…”

Following the shelving of the Sinn Féin/DUP drafted Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill, Northern Ireland Minister of State, Hugo Swire, announced “the launch of an open competition for appointment to the posts of chairman and members of the Parades Commission.” Today, as the BBC reports, Owen Paterson revealed the outcome of that competition. From the NI Secretary of State’s statement Secretary of State Owen Paterson MP today announced the appointment of Peter Osborne as Chair of the Parades Commission … Read more

“this sort of thing is not helpful…”

In his political review of the year, focusing on the new interventionist Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, the News Letter‘s Sam McBride includes this intriging cameo from the corridors of power Stormont. Three weeks ago, when this newspaper reported Owen Paterson’s strongly pro-Union Steinberg Lecture, Martin McGuinness caught up with the secretary of state in a corridor, held up a copy of the News Letter front page, and chided him that “this sort of thing is not helpful”. Given Mr Paterson’s … Read more