4 September 2012
Villiers new Secretary of State for the North as Paterson goes in Westminster reshuffle
'Martin Corey and Marian Price are entitled to due process which they have been denied. They should be released and Sinn Féin will be raising both cases with the new British Secretary of State' – Gerry Adams
OWEN PATERSON has been replaced as British Secretary of State for the North of Ireland by Theresa Villiers MP in a British Government Cabinet reshuffle.
Villiers had been tipped for a ministerial post in Transport but surprised Westminster watchers in the media when she was shipped off to Ireland. Paterson moves to Environment.
Commenting on the moves, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:
"I wish Owen Paterson well in his new job. However, I hope that his successor, Theresa Villiers, will bring a new and more progressive focus to the many issues which need to be dealt with at this time.”
The Sinn Féin leader said that outstanding issues from the Good Friday Agreement and the Hillsborough Agreement, including a Bill of Rights for the North, need to be addressed along with others such as Corporation Tax and cross-Border development.
Adams also highlighted the continued imprisonment of Martin Corey and Marian Price, saying this was causing considerable concern: “Both of these citizens are entitled to due process which they have been denied. They should be released and Sinn Féin will be raising both cases with the new British Secretary of State.”
Owen Paterson has been criticised by many over his interference in the judicial system which saw him order the reimprisonment of Martin Corey in July. The order came despite Corey winning a legal challenge which found that parole commissioners had breached his human rights.
At the time, Sinn Féin MLA Seán Lynch slammed Paterson's decision, saying:
“It is totally unacceptable that this fly-by-night British minister, who is not elected by anyone in the North, can imprison someone without placing any evidence or proof before the court.”
Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet in Hertfordshire (just north of London), was an MEP for London between 1999 and 2005 before being elected to the British parliament as a Conservative MP.
She has been a staunch advocate for the reunification of Cyprus. In 2009, she told a Conservative Party conference:
"Now is a crucial time for the talks and it is important that everyone who is a friend of Cyprus makes their support clear in the push for a just, lasting and balanced settlement in Cyprus which will see the whole island united again with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship."
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