Riots threaten to deter investors, says Villiers

Speculation about her continued place in the Cabinet continues

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers speaks at the   Conservative Party Conference at Manchester Central yesterday. Photograph:  Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers speaks at the Conservative Party Conference at Manchester Central yesterday. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Thu, Oct 3, 2013, 01:00


Grotesque sectarian street demonstrations threaten the North’s ability to attract foreign investors, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers said yesterday.

Her declaration, at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, came amid speculation about her continued place in the Cabinet after next week’s reshuffle by prime minister David Cameron.

“It’s hard to see how Northern Ireland can reach its full economic potential while sectarian division continues to spill out on to the streets with disgraceful scenes of rioting and violence,” she said.

“The idea that British identity and culture can be defended by people who wrap themselves in the union flag and attack police officers with bricks and blast bombs and ceremonial swords is grotesque.

Conservatives, she said, “have always stood foursquare for the rule of law . . . and we condemn all those who seek to attack and undermine it,” she said.

Her comments came during a poorl-attended morning meeting that dealt with Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, away from the main conference floor.


Lack of women
Ms Villiers has been mentioned on a long list of ministers who could be demoted in next week’s reshuffle.

Though Ms Villiers is regarded as less-than-stellar in the Northern Ireland role, Mr Cameron has a serious problem with the lack of women ministers in his Cabinet.

Responding to her speech, Labour’s spokesman, Vernon Coaker, said she had delivered “sound and no vision”, reinforcing “the growing perception” that the British Government is “semi-detached” about Northern Ireland.