A hugely welcome statement from the PM on direct rule

Morning View
Morning View

On Tuesday, this editorial column urged the British government to contradict Simon Coveney directly in his unhelpful interventions on Northern Ireland.

A favourite of the Irish foreign minister is to say there can be no “British-only” direct rule, as he calls it.

Oh yes there can, and it is increasingly clear that it will have to happen now that Sinn Fein has apparently given up on the Stormont institutions.

Nothing more vividly illustrates the problems with mandatory coalition than the existence of a party that takes advantage of the fact that it must be included and issues non negotiable demands for its entry into power.

It would be an unforgivable betrayal of democracy, of decent political engagement and of British sovereignty if such tactics led to even a diluted form of direct rule.

There must be no reward whatsoever for republican tactics in the form of an increased say for Dublin, which however mild would be a major coup for Sinn Fein.

Yesterday in Parliament, Ian Paisley Junior MP cited our editorial to a junior minister, who declined the opportunity to clarify the position.

Also in Westminster, Nigel Dodds MP yesterday asked the prime minister to confirm the three stranded approach to government in Northern Ireland, in which governance in the Province is a matter for the British government and for Stormont. Theresa May confirmed that this was the case.

There could be no more significant politician to confirm such a position as the prime minister of the United Kingdom.

This is hugely welcome.

We also need the Northern Ireland ministers in future to respond to each and every unhelpful intervention from Dublin, that gives succour to Sinn Fein over sovereignty.

The Irish government has become a shamelessly partisan player on a range of contested issues, which is regrettable, but in such circumstances it must be contradicted at times.