Kate Hoey: Julian Smith must not let Irish ministers act as if they speak for Nothern Ireland

Irish T�naiste Simon Coveney and Secretary of State Karen Bradley at Stormont House in April. "She allowed Irish ministers to behave as if they were speaking for NI".'Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Irish T�naiste Simon Coveney and Secretary of State Karen Bradley at Stormont House in April. "She allowed Irish ministers to behave as if they were speaking for NI".'Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
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Ben Lowry hit the nail on the head (‘NIO above all is determined never to upset Irish nationalism,’ August 31) about the role of the Northern Ireland Office.

Of course the secretary of state must stay neutral, some will say. But the NIO has been far from neutral.

Just examining a few of their decisions shows a distinct bias to the nationalist agenda.

Why should any government be neutral on the unity and integrity of its country?

Terrorism and the threat of terrorism has been allowed to normalise this treacherous stance.

The Irish government shows no such concern about neutrality, constantly speaking up for the nationalist community of Northern Ireland.

So who is supposed to speaking up for the pro British majority?

We have a NIO led by a civil servant Sir Jonathan Stephens who seems to have spent many years in hoc to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs — so much so that a former secretary of state was alleged to have asked him which government was he working for?

Ultimately the secretary of state has the power to change the way the NIO works and that means moving Sir Jonathan out as soon as possible.

I had hoped that Julian Smith would realise changes had to be made if the trust in the office he represents is not to be totally lost by the pro Union community.

Karen Bradley allowed Irish ministers to behave as if they were speaking for Northern Ireland. That cannot continue.

The jury is out on Julian Smith but the re appointment of a Victims’ Commissioner derided by all the groups that deal with innocent victims last week suggests that already he is being re programmed by the civil servants.

If he is to be respected he must act soon and start remembering which government he represents.

Kate Hoey, Vauxhall MP