David Lidington, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has welcomed today’s Sinn Fein vote to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Mr Lidington added that it was vital that the republican movement quickly matched its words with deeds. Speaking exclusively to ConservativeHome he said that too much time had already been lost and he would be looking for early signs of Sinn Fein members co-operating with the police in order to bring criminals to justice. The resolution passed today suggests that Sinn Fein’s co-operation with the police need not begin until the start of a power-sharing agreement.
By way of footnote I spent fifteen minutes on the telephone with David Lidington and learnt a great deal about Northern Ireland politics. In the three years that David has held the NI portfolio he has gained a real understanding of the situation there. David Cameron has so far avoided unnecessary tinkering with his frontbench team and the more time that shadow ministers are given to master their briefs in this way the better.