Following his appointment to the Northern Ireland Office, Julian Smith has had meetings with different victims campaign groups over the ongoing stalemate in Northern Ireland. These meetings seem to have been more upbeat than previous meetings with his predecessor Karen Bradley and the victims groups have expressed confidence in the new Secretary of State.
Victims and survivors had lost confidence in Ms Bradley and had gone as far as to call for her resignation. They remain unhappy that the recommendations of the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry have not progressed into any tangible form over 2 ½ years since they were presented to the Executive.
The lack of any positive direction towards re-establishing the devolved institutions has lead to calls from some politicians for a return to Direct Rule from Westminster as the only way to clear the logjam.
Mr Smith said “It is absolutely my priority to ensure we do deliver on the Hart report. I have written to colleagues in London and Westminster to try and get this moving as quickly as possible.”
Jon McCourt of Survivors North West expressed positive views of the stated intentions and Marty Adams of Survivors Together found Mr Smith “very welcoming”.
While Mr Smith expressed a desire to find a slot in the coming legislative agenda he may find the availability of time limited with parliament to be prorogued and a new Queen’s Speech and potential General Election in the coming weeks, and the impact of Brexit (or not) to be dealt with following those debates.
Authored by Ciara McReynolds, Solicitor, BLM