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Cross-Party Talks

Volume 587: debated on Wednesday 29 October 2014

11. What lessons have been learnt from the previous talks processes, and what outcomes she expects from the current round of talks. (905674)

Previous talks processes have demonstrated what can be achieved when political parties engage seriously and constructively, and are prepared to make difficult decisions in order to reach an accommodation.

The lack of serious political engagement in the current round of talks, which is characterised by the fact that parties are still squabbling over whether or not they are attending the talks, does not bode well for the future. Meanwhile, in my constituency, a young man has been hospitalised with head injuries, police officers have been injured, and pensioners have been terrified in their own homes after three successive nights of violence. What sanctions will the Secretary of State impose on the parties that fail to show the will to resolve the outstanding issues in this process?

It is important that all the five parties are engaging in this talks process, and I would encourage them to take this very seriously. It is crucial that we find a way forward on these matters. I wholeheartedly condemn what has gone on in the hon. Lady’s constituency not just over the last few days but over a series of weeks. There have been continuing problems with that interface. It is utterly disgraceful that the teenage boy was hospitalised as a result of this sectarian violence, and I hope it will be tackled with the full force of the law.