Alliance Party Leader David Ford has slammed the Secretary of State for his comments attacking other parties for abandoning the “bilateral approach” on Northern Ireland. Mr Hain commented that, in the same way the Labour Party backed the Conservatives on Northern Ireland while in opposition, the Conservatives should now back him. He said he expected support on issues such as the “on-the-run” legislation. Mr Ford responded that it was the Labour Party, on one else, which was responsible for abandoning the inclusion of other parties in the process.
Mr Ford commented: “It is the Labour Party which chose to abandon the bilateral approach, no one else. It is the party that engaged in grubby side deals with other parties on their own, for example on ‘on-the-runs’, and it is the party which is intent on abandoning victims and democrats for cheap political gain.
“The Prime Minister and Secretary of State have lost all credibility on this matter. They, and no one else, chose the exclude the other parties from the process, focusing instead on dealing with specific parties on issues such as ‘on-the-runs’, the Victims’ Commissioner and the failed deal on late 2004.
“The Government is setting new standards in hypocrisy here. If it wants the support of the rest of us, then it had better stand consulting with and listening to the rest of us. Then it would have known a long time ago that no serious democrat could support the ‘on-the-run’ legislation as it stood, as well as our many and genuine concerns about all kinds of other things.
“The Government, no one else, abandoned the ‘bilateral approach’. Let us hope the Labour Party does not now abandon democracy itself.”