One Leaver and two Remainers vie for job of running Parliament’s NI committee

The Ulster Banner, often used to represent Northern Ireland
The Ulster Banner, often used to represent Northern Ireland

The final list of candidates for Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has been published.

They are: Maria Caulfield (Tory MP for Lewes, Sussex), Simon Hoare (Tory MP for North Dorset), and Mark Pritchard (Tory MP for The Wrekin, Shropshire). There will be a secret ballot on Wednesday to elect the chair.

They will follow Tory MP and former Royal Naval officer Andrew William Murrison in the role.

The only one of the trio to have posted a manifesto on the committee website is Maria Caulfield.

She supported Leave at the time of the referendum campaign.

The other two candidates for chair supported Remain.

She said she is Chair of the Conservative Ireland Association, and wrote: “My interest in Northern Ireland stems from my family connections to the Republic of Ireland [she has described herself as the daughter of Irish immigrants], where the sensitivities for all communities and the historical perspective are well known.

“Regularly visiting both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland I have extensive and personal knowledge of the cross-border issues and how important it is for people living and working on both sides of the border that it remains open as it is today.”

She said said she wants to make sure “issues of equality are addressed”, and “want to urgently address the outstanding issue of historical institutional abuse and the prosecution of armed forces personnel”.

Equality is often invoked by pro-choice politicians who want to see abortion law liberalised in Northern Ireland.

However, the Lewes MP has criticised in the Commons attempts to effectively decriminalise abortion, saying: “I am amazed that the Bill’s backers, including private abortion providers, have the gall to propose these changes, which would remove regulations at a time when the UK abortion industry is knee-deep in revelations of unethical, unsafe and unprofessional practices. In recent years, we have seen doctors pre-signing bulk abortion forms and offering sex-selective abortions.”