Theresa Villiers Visits Whaley Bridge

Theresa Villiers

Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has visited Whaley Bridge to meet with emergency support teams who are working to ensure that the Toddbrook Reservoir wall isn’t breached.

The reservoir, which opened in 1838, risks being breached due to heavy rain and the surrounding town has been evacuated in case of flooding. RAF Chinook helicopters have been used to drop 400 sandbags on a section of the damaged reservoir wall and pumps have been used to remove water from the reservoir.

Villiers said:

“My thoughts are with the people who have had to leave their homes. Having spoken today to some of those evacuated I know how difficult this situation is for them and I pay tribute to their patience and fortitude. It’s been wonderful to see the community support and spirit in Whaley Bridge.

I want to thank all emergency services, military personnel, Environment Agency and volunteers for their continued hard work. I am confident that everything that can be done is being done and I’ve seen a reassuring amount of progress today.”

Plastic Bag Surcharge Sees 90% Fall in Usage

Theresa Villiers

The Government has said that figures are showing that plastic bag usage has fallen by 90% since the introduction of a surcharge for their use. The figures suggest that the average consumer now acquires 10 bags per year instead of 140 bags which they used before the surcharge.

Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for the Environment, said in a statement:

“Our comprehensive action to slash plastic waste and leave our environment in a better state continues to deliver results, with our 5p charge reducing plastic bag sales by 90% in the big supermarkets.

No one wants to see the devastating impact plastic waste is having on our precious wildlife. Today’s figures are a powerful demonstration that we are collectively calling time on being a throwaway society.”

Theresa Villiers Condemns Belfast Murder

Theresa Villiers
Theresa Villiers

Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has condemned the murder of 33-year old Michael McGibbon following a shooting in Belfast on 15 April 2016.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said that McGibbon wasn’t known to the police and they were unsure of why he had been attacked. He had been shot three times in the leg and had died after being taken to the city’s Royal Victoria Hospital. The PSNI said:

“Michael was brutally and callously shot a number of times in the leg in an alleyway in a densely populated urban area. Despite the best efforts of his wife Joanne immediately after the attack, she was unable to save him and Michael tragically passed away following emergency surgery at the RVH. What happened in that alleyway last night robbed a family of a treasured husband and father”.

In a statement Villiers said:

“This callous and shocking murder appears to have the hallmarks of the paramilitary-style assaults which too often ruin lives and scar Northern Ireland.

My sympathy is with Mr McGibbon’s young family.

The PSNI investigation will now take its course and I urge anyone with information to come forward to bring those responsible to justice”.

Theresa Villiers Comments on 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Sunday Risings

Theresa Villiers
Theresa Villiers

Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has issued a statement over the 100th anniversary of the Easter Sunday Risings. The Risings are seen as one of the most important steps towards the creation of an independent Republic of Ireland.

In the statement Villiers said:

“I recognise the significance of this weekend for Irishmen & women across the world.

Whatever one’s perspective, I welcome and appreciate the efforts of the Irish Government to ensure that the centenary of the Easter Rising is marked in ways that are inclusive and designed to promote reconciliation”.

The Marquess of Lansdowne said in the House of Lords 100 years following the attacks:

“My noble friend concluded his speech by calling the attention of the House to the fact that within his knowledge repeated warnings had been addressed to the Irish Government as to not only the possibility but the probability of an outbreak of this kind. I have made inquiries into this matter, and I am not able to conjecture what is the precise foundation upon which my noble friend’s charge is made. It is a matter of notoriety that for some time past the activity of the Sinn Fein party has been very noticeable and has occasioned serious misgivings to many people, and to that extent it is, no doubt, quite true that the Government of Ireland were aware that there was a possibility of trouble, but I have not been able to hear of anything like a specific or authoritative warning of such a development as that which we have witnessed within the last few days. In fact, the only specific warning which we did receive—it was one which came from an external source—reached us on the day of the outbreak”.

Theresa Villiers Condemns Act of Terrorism in East Belfast

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Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has condemned the placing of an explosive device under a serving prison officer’s car.

The explosion on Hillsborough Drive has seriously injured the 52 year old prison officer.

Villiers said:

“I utterly condemn this vicious attack on a prison officer in East Belfast.

Like all his colleagues in the prison service, this officer serves the whole of the community, in stark contrast to the people who carried out this appalling and violent crime.

I strongly urge anyone with information about this murder attempt to contact the police to help bring those responsible to justice”.

Arlene Foster, the Leader of DUP, said:

“Disgraceful and despicable attack in East Belfast”.

Theresa Villiers condemns attack on police

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Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has condemned an attack on the police in the Province. The attacks took place in Belfast when shots were fired at two police officers in a car, in what appeared to be an attempt to shoot them.

In a statement Villiers said:

“This was a shocking attack on police officers. The people behind this despicable crime will rightly attract condemnation from right across the community. I urge anyone with information to contact the police”.

Peter Robinson, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, said:

“The attack was a futile act which could have resulted in carnage for anyone in the vicinity”.

Theresa Villiers makes statement on paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland

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Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has issued a statement on paramilitary groups in the Province.

Villiers said:

“On Monday we plan to press ahead with intensive talks involving the five main Northern Ireland parties and the Irish Government on matters for which they are responsible. The UK Government is determined to play our part in helping to build a Northern Ireland where politics works, the economy grows and society is stronger and more united. The full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement is central to making progress towards those objectives. The Agreement represented a good deal for Northern Ireland.

Recent events have also highlighted the continuing impact and legacy of paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland. This too needs to be tackled as a matter of urgency. The fallout has damaged political relationships making it more difficult for meaningful talks to begin. The public concern about continuing paramilitary activity and involvement of paramilitaries in criminality has been raised by all the five main Northern Ireland parties and in Parliament in response to my recent statement.

The measures set out below are intended to inform and assist the Northern Ireland parties in grappling with the difficult issues on the talks agenda next week.

Independent Assessment of Paramilitary Organisations

I am announcing today that the Government has commissioned a factual assessment from the UK security agencies and the PSNI on the structure, role and purpose of paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland. This assessment will be independently reviewed and checked by three individuals who I will appoint. Their names will be announced early next week. This assessment will be published by mid-October and will be available to inform the parties’ discussions and conclusions in the cross party talks.

Paramilitary activity, criminality and cross border crime

Over recent days, I have discussed with all five main Northern Ireland parties their determination to redouble efforts to tackle links between paramilitary organisations and organised crime. This is also a key concern of the Irish government.

The Government strongly supports the excellent work of Justice Minister, David Ford’s Organised Crime Task Force in Northern Ireland. This brings together the PSNI, HMRC, NCA, and other partners, focusing their efforts to address organised crime in all its forms in Northern Ireland, including where paramilitary organisations are involved. I pay tribute to all those organisations for the outstanding work they do in protecting the community. I know that during next week’s talks, all the five Northern Ireland parties intend to discuss what more can be done to strengthen those efforts. The UK Government is committed to doing all we can to support, and work with, those involved in the fight against organised crime in Northern Ireland.

To that end, I want to explore with urgency what further support we can give them through the relevant bodies for which we have responsibility, such as HMRC and the National Crime Agency. I also intend to establish dedicated funding aimed at increasing the capability of agencies working to tackle criminality and organised crime associated with paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland. It will support agencies to enhance specialist capabilities such as forensic accounting to strengthen their capacity to seize criminal assets.

Lastly, I am planning to discuss with the Northern Ireland Justice Minister and the Irish Justice Minister how we can work best together in our efforts to tackle cross border crime. Minister Fitzgerald and Minister Flanagan have both reiterated the determination of the Irish Government to deal as effectively as possible with cross border crime and to build on the high levels of co-operation which already exist. I would value the opportunity to work with ministers on both sides of the border to ensure the most efficient use of our collective resource to tackle organised criminals operating in both jurisdictions”.

Downing Street has confirmed that David Cameron has met with DUP leader Peter Robinson

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Downing Street has confirmed that David Cameron, the Prime Minister, and Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, have met for urgent talks with Peter Robinson, the First Minister and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The meeting comes after the Ulster Unionist Party withdrew from the Northern Executive last week over allegations that members of the Provisional IRA were involved with the murder of Kevin McGuigan.

Downing Street issued a statement saying:

“The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland met with the leader of the DUP Peter Robinson in Downing Street this afternoon. They discussed the current challenges facing the institutions following the murder of Kevin McGuigan and the lack of progress to implement the Stormont House Agreement.

The Prime Minister recognised the gravity of the current situation and the need to rebuild trust and confidence in the political process in Northern Ireland . He reiterated his commitment to the devolved institutions and to tackling any remaining paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister has asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to hold further urgent talks with the political parties in Northern Ireland and the Irish Government with the aim of agreeing a way forward that builds a better future for the people of Northern Ireland”.

The Ulster Unionist Party withdraw from the Northern Ireland Executive

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The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) have confirmed that they will be withdrawing from the Northern Ireland Executive. The decision comes following the murder of Kevin McGuigan which the Police Service of Northern Ireland said was committed by members of the Provisional IRA.

Mike Nesbitt, the leader of the UUP, said that he supported the decision to withdraw from the Executive. He added that:

“Sinn Fein no credibility and we have no trust and without trust we have nothing”.

Theresa Villiers, the Northern Ireland Secretary, said:

“This is a matter for the Ulster Unionist Party who take their own decisions. The Government remains fully committed to the devolved political institutions and to the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement. Over the coming days, I shall be continuing my discussions with the parties about fallout from the murder of Kevin McGuigan”.

Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, had previously said:

“The IRA has gone and is not coming back”.

Villiers pays respect to Lord Mason

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Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has paid respect to Lord Mason of Barnsley following his death on 20 April 2015 at the age of 91.

Mason was the Labour MP for Barnsley from 1953 to 1983 and for Barnsley Central from 1983 to 1987. He also held the positions of Postmaster General in 1968, President of the Board of Trade from 1969 to 1970, Secretary of State for Defence from 1974 until 1976 and was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1976 until 1979.

In a statement Villiers said:

“I was saddened to hear of the death of Lord Mason today, who served as Secretary of State with distinction during the 1970s.

Roy Mason will probably be best remembered as someone who stood up robustly to terrorism during the height of the troubles. His work as Secretary of State helped to ensure that political violence and intimidation, from wherever it came, would ultimately never succeed.

My thoughts and condolences are with his family”.