Villiers urges welfare reforms

Northern Secretary also pushes for progress on Haass proposals

The Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers has warned that there will be consequences if the Northern Executive does not endorse welfare reform. She has also urged the Executive to endorse the new British National Crime Agency.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP oppose the National Crime Agency operating in Northern Ireland because they contend it will remove local primacy over policing issues.

The agency was established in Britain last October, replacing the Serious Crime Agency. It also has responsibility for tackling child exploitation and trafficking and has been dubbed the British FBI.

Organised crime
"I believe that people in Northern Ireland deserve the same protection from organised crime as people in Great Britain now have through the work of the National Crime Agency," Ms Villiers will say in her speech at the Presbyterian headquarters in Belfast today.


In an attempt to get Sinn Féin and SDLP support, she will add: “It may have ‘national’ in its name but the UK government completely accepts the crucial importance of ensuring that NCA’s operations in Northern Ireland are fully consistent with the devolution settlement.”

Sinn Féin and the SDLP also oppose introducing the British Welfare Reform Bill to Northern Ireland because, they argue, it will lead to more rather than less austerity.

British ministers have warned that continuing rejection of the Bill will lead to reductions in Westminster’s block grant to the Northern Executive.

First Minister Peter Robinson said the North would lose £1 billion over five years.

In her speech, Ms Villiers will also urge action on the stalled Haass proposals on dealing with the past, parades and flags, saying it would allow Northern politicians to focus on issues such as the economy and tackling sectarianism.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times