At Northern Ireland Questions I asked the Secretary of State to confirm if the British Government was approaching the current impasse within the devolved administration as an active participant for peace or a neutral observer. There are many who now believe that the government has largely disengaged and is concerned only with advancing its austerity agenda.
It was disappointing that in her response, the Secretary of State suggested that the institutions aimed at dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland may be held back as a result of the difficulties surrounding welfare reform. Let me be very clear- the SDLP negotiated hard to reach a settlement that can best meet the needs of victims and survivors. Any dispensation aimed at healing our divided society and delivering truth to those who have suffered most cannot be horse traded and the SDLP will not engage in that type of politics.
The British Government has its own choice to make in the coming weeks. They can promote reconciliation and peace through negotiation or they can blindly plough their austerity furrow. The SDLP will hold true to our position of implementing the elements of the Stormont House proposals that are strong and improving those that are weak.