The tragic murder of journalist and human rights campaigner Lyra McKee last week in Derry/Londonderry is a dreadful reminder of the fragility of peace in Northern Ireland.
An Urgent Question was granted on Tuesday for MPs to ensure that all is being done by the UK Government to tackle terrorist activity in Northern Ireland.
I asked the Secretary of State how the Government will ensure that the New Irish Republican Army (NIRA), which is a proscribed terrorist organisation will be tackled head on. We need to be clear that being a member, supporting the work of, or promoting their heinous activities is a terrorist offence.
We have tragically lost the life of a promising young talent. Lyra has said in her previous work that she is a child of the peace process. We cannot go back to the dark days of the Troubles. We need to get all parties back around the table and for the power sharing agreement to be restored in Stormont.
It was announced that the UK Government will postpone elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly yet again.
The postponement of these elections means that we avoid having to undertake direct rule. If we ever reach the point of Direct Rule it will be a failure of this Government to get all parties involved around the table.
I noted in my question that way we overcome this impasse last time was by dedicated, and personal intervention, by the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach.
The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP, has just had to settle a court dispute with the Channel Tunnel company as he did not fulfil his legal duties when signing the doomed contract with Seaborne Freight – the ferry company with no ferries.
Labour secured an urgent question to pull the Secretary of State before the House to answer why he has cost taxpayers £33million. What we got instead was the Secretary of State for Health. Yes, the minister responsible for the NHS in England was answering questions on a failing by the minister responsible for ferries. In other words, the Secretary of State for Transport was running away from his mistakes.
I asked the Minister if at any point the Secretary of State was informed that his decision could lead to a legal challenge from the Channel Tunnel company. No answer was forthcoming.
Wasting public funds in such a reckless way is shameful and the Secretary of State should do the right thing and resign.
The National Audit Office (NAO) has published its report into the part-privatisation of our probation services and it makes for damning reading.
Chris Grayling – the current Secretary of State for Transport who just had to pay £33million of taxpayers money in compensation to a private firm after he commissioned a ferry service to a company with no boats – was the mastermind behind this decision.
The report is clear that public money has been wasted and rehabilitation of offenders has been undermined. I wanted the Prisons Minister to state who is responsible and what will be done to address these massive failings in government.