UUP and Tories in 'mongrel relationship', says Taylor

 

THE ULSTER Unionists and the British Conservatives are involved in a “mongrel relationship” which will cause damaging confusion in the imminent Westminster election, former MP John Taylor has claimed.

Mr Taylor, now Lord Kilclooney, was also critical of his party’s approach to the devolution of policing and justice in the aftermath of Tuesday’s Assembly vote to request the transfer of powers from London.

With the Conservatives and the Ulster Unionists preparing an agreed candidates list for the May election, Lord Kilclooney said the nature of the alliance between the two parties was deeply flawed.

“I’ve always thought it to be a mongrel relationship,” he said.

“Either they should have gone the whole way and become a part of the Conservative party or nothing. Not this kind of mongrel relationship which has led tragically to the confusion over the last few weeks, including [on Tuesday].”

Referring to the decision of the UUP to vote against devolution of policing and justice while the Conservatives supported the transfer, Lord Kilclooney warned: “There is continuing contradiction between Ulster Unionists and Conservative party position which is going to end up in chaos at the general election.”

Lord Kilclooney served in the Ministry of Home Affairs in Stormont which exercised policing and justice powers prior to the imposition of direct rule by London.

It was the removal of these powers which provoked the resignation of then Northern Ireland prime minister Brian Faulkner and the collapse of the old parliament.

He also sharply criticised the UUP’s insistence on agreement over education reform as a condition for supporting devolution of justice.

“I just think they are in the wrong. They shouldn’t have been linking devolution with education. I agree in their approach to education but I don’t think they should have blackmailed.”

Reiterating the need for local control of policing and justice he added: “It is important for any government to have its own attorney general and a minister of justice.

“The late Brian Faulkner the prime minister said that devolution was useless at Stormont unless you had control of the policing and judicial system.”

The Stormont Executive will now evolve into “a real government now it has got all these powers of devolution completed,” he said.

There had not been much progress to show on education, the reorganisation of local government or on water charges. “All these issues are sitting in amends with no progress,” he said.

Although he is strongly supportive of the devolution of policing and justice, Lord Kilclooney said the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV), which opposes power sharing at Stormont with Sinn Féin, could be proved right.

“In time Jim Allister, the TUV and the Ulster Unionists could be proved right,” he said.

“Both oppose devolution of policing and justice and if the Executive proves to be incapable of making decisions and if Sinn Féin and some members of SDLP show they are incapable of accepting Northern Ireland’s existence, Jim Allister and the Ulster Unionists will be proved right in the longer term.”