13/03/2007

Former NI Secretary denies criticising Blair

Peter Mandelson has denied claims he criticised the Prime Minister’s handling of the peace process.

The former Northern Ireland Secretary was quoted in 'The Guardian' newspaper this morning as saying he believed Tony Blair’s behaviour was “unreasonable and irresponsible” in relation to concessions he granted Sinn Fein during attempts to broker a peace deal in the province.

The paper has also reported Mr Mandelson said that while he praised Mr Blair’s commitment to the process, he thought the PM “would be sort of dangling carrots and possibilities in front of the republicans which I thought could never be delivered.”

Former Cabinet secretary Lord Butler of Brockwell also said Blair faced a dilemma trying to balance the needs of both republicans without alienating unionists.

He said: “There was a lot to be said for paying a price to keep the bicycle moving. The issue is whether Tony Blair paid too big a price.”

However, the ex-NI secretary has played down the comments, saying they were neither “credible or a true reflection of my views.”

He said: “This report amplifies something I said out of all proportion to its content and makes a generalised judgment totally unsupported by the remarks I made.

“What they present as news is very old hat to anyone with a passing familiarity with Northern Ireland’s recent history.”

(JM/KMcA)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

06 February 2019
Brexit: PM's Pledge To Avoid A Hard Border
Prime Minister Theresa May has visited Belfast to offer assurances over her Brexit strategy and reiterate her "unshakeable" commitment to avoiding a hard border in Ireland. "The UK Government will not let that happen. I will not let that happen," the Conservative leader told an audience in the city on the afternoon of Tuesday 05 February.
29 January 2019
MP's Set To Vote On Brexit Amendments
MP's in Westminster are preparing to vote on a series of amendments to Theresa May's Brexit deal that hold the potential to shape further negotiations.
12 February 2019
Women Targeted In Romance Scam Lose £105K
A senior PSNI officer has warned people looking for love online to be on the alert for fraudsters, after two women from Northern Ireland were scammed out of a total of £105,000 in a romance ploy ahead of Valentine's Day.
08 February 2019
Other News In Brief
Man Dies In Armagh House Fire A man in his 50's has died following a house fire in the St Brigid's Hill area of Armagh. The PSNI received a report of the blaze at around 4pm on Thursday 07 February. The man died at the scene.
08 February 2019
PSNI Officers To See 2% Pay Rise
A two percent consolidated pay increase has been awarded to the federated and superintending ranks of the PSNI, and has been backdated to 01 September 2018.