As the last direct rule minister for Northern Ireland, when I was responsible for Northern Ireland’s budget and many other functions, I wanted to stress to the Secretary of State that direct rule is a poor form of governance.
The collapse in the negotiations to reestablish the Northern Ireland Assembly is a terrible outcome for the people of Northern Ireland. The statement presented informed Parliament that we will now be asked to pass a budget for Northern Ireland. I wanted details on this budget and if it was to include the £1 billion deal cobbled together by the Conservatives and DUP to form a minority government.
On Monday, I asked the Prime Minister – once again – for her assurances that the UK will remain a member of EUROPOL when we leave the EU.
But once again she could not make such assurances. Instead she noted her usual line that it will be up for negotiation with the remaining 27 member states of the European Union.
As you will know, I am strongly of the opinion that we must work together with our European partners to defend ourselves from those who wish us harm. EUROPOL, and associated bodies, were created by the UK to ensure that Europe had a connected network of police who could share intelligence and target criminals wherever they may be.
We have seen many success stories with EUROPOL and it has allowed our police to share their expertise throughout Europe. Our police are the best in the world. They police through consent of the community and through EUROPOL we have been able to export this citizen led approach. Loss of membership of EUROPOL would put us at risk.
I will continue to press the Prime Minister and her Government for our membership of EUROPOL and other security organisations. The safety of the population is the first duty of government. Failure to secure membership of EUROPOL is a failure of that duty.