Shaun Woodward accuses Government of breaking promise on Belfast

The Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward used his speech to the Labour conference yesterday to criticise the Government for not honouring the promise to hold an inquiry into a controversial Belfast killing.

He said the commitment by Tony Blair to investigate the killing of Pat Finucane, the defence solicitor shot dead by loyalist extremists in Belfast more than two decades ago, should be honoured by the Government.

The 1989 shooting has generated widespread calls for an inquiry amid allegations that elements of the security services helped direct the assassins. The process of setting up an inquiry, and deciding on the limitations likely to be placed on its remit, has taken many years. The Finucane family is pressing for an investigation which would be as wide and as open as possible.

In July the solicitor's widow, Geraldine Finucane, said Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson had promised her a decision on the inquiry earlier this year, but had not delivered.

She added: "It is an untenable and insensitive situation and confirms my belief that the policy of delay continues. I am also very unhappy that no reason has been provided to me for this delay."

Mr Woodward said yesterday that Mr Paterson would be taking a huge gamble if he decided against an inquiry, despite a promise which Labour had made in good faith. He declared: "He promised his decision would be soon, but no decision yet. If it is his intention to renege on the commitment, I urge him to think again."

Mr Woodward, who was Northern Ireland Secretary for three years, said that "when history looks back on the great achievements of Labour in government the peace process in Northern Ireland will rank high."

On the local economy, he accused the Government of undermining attempts by the devolved Belfast administration to bring foreign investment to Belfast. He said the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, were working hard to promote investment, and that they had secured some new jobs. But he added: "Their hard work is savaged by Coalition policy – not so much a helping hand as a succession of closed doors." He said that David Cameron's approach of limiting his availability to Belfast politicians "certainly leaves Northern Ireland weaker".

Although Mr Woodward commended the investment efforts of Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness, he made it clear he opposed their joint policy of seeking a cut in corporation tax to attract new companies. The major Belfast parties and most of the business community support such a cut, as does Mr Paterson. The Treasury has yet to confirm that it would agree to the measure. Mr Woodward said the proposed cut was "a huge gamble", since it would be paid for by an annual £300m reduction in Northern Ireland's money from London.

He declared: "Trade unions are against the cut – unions worried for the tens of thousands in the public sector who will pay for the cut with their jobs in schools and hospitals. Our fear is that it heralds a race to the bottom."

He said there were forecasts that 40,000 jobs are to be lost in Northern Ireland, which had the worst unemployment figures for young people in 15 years.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas