I am struck by An Taoiseach saying that it is important for Northern Ireland to have effective government. I think that is a requirement for everyone, but when we realise that much of the New Decade, New Approach agreement is uncosted and that the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in Westminster recently heard that the €2 billion pledged already will be insufficient to meet the commitments in New Decade, New Approach, it raises questions as to how effective the agreement will be.
One of the other issues we need to look at is the block grant from Westminster to Northern Ireland and the Assembly. The grant has effectively been stagnant, meaning its power to deliver has been eroded over the years by inflation. With an uncosted agreement, vague commitments that are not being followed through on and only 13 months left in the assembly’s term, many are asking how much will actually be achieved. That speaks to the need for the Irish Government, as one of the many parties involved, to push for effective government and proper achievements. We need to show leadership down here too.
Victims and survivors look not just to London but to Dublin for leadership on the issues of legacy and the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement. For the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval to function properly, legislation will be required in both Dublin and Westminster, yet in seven years we have seen no legislation come to the House and no attempt to push legislation to establish the independent commission. That would show leadership and put moral pressure on the British Government to act.
We need to look not just to London but to Dublin and at what we can do here to implement these agreements.