Labour peer lobbies Theresa May to appoint 'mediator' to tackle Stormont crisis

Labour peer Lord Adonis has written to British prime minister Theresa May over his concerns about Stormont crisis and Brexit fallout

A LABOUR peer has called on Theresa May to urgently appoint a high-ranking mediator "of the calibre of US senator George Mitchell" to intervene in Northern's Ireland's political stalemate.

Lord Adonis, who visited the north earlier this month and wrote to Mrs May last Friday, also criticised her stance on Brexit and described the "acute concern" about her recent comments on opposition to a 'backstop' in the event of a hard border.

The correspondence, seen by the Irish News, is particularly scathing of the Tory reliance on the DUP and how they have "caved into DUP pressure" to keep Stormont in "abeyance".

The peer, who is a remain supporter and is currently leading a campaign for a second Brexit referendum, wrote:

"There is no virtually no support for Brexit of any kind in Northern Ireland beyond the leadership of the DUP. This is a view shared across communities in the regions because of the threat it poses of a new border in Ireland and the potentially serious impediments to trade, travel prosperity and the Good Friday Agreement."

He adds: "...despite tokenistic words you are doing nothing meaningful to revive the (Assembly) institutions. In particular, you have not appointed a mediator to consult with the parties.

"This is crucial as the 'supply and confidence' deal your government signed with the DUP is widely seen as compromising the the UK government' neutrality and its ability to be an honest broker."

He states there is "growing anger and frustration" about safeguarding "basic human rights" in the north and singles out inequalities around abortion legislation and same-sex marriage.

Lord Adonis, who met with politicians, business leaders and residents along the border during his three-day visit, also lambasts Mrs May for failing to visit Derry during a surge in sectarian violence and attacks on police.

"If the same violence had taken place in a city on the mainland such as Birmingham or Glasgow there would have been emergency parliamentary debates and indeed the recall of Parliament had it taken place in the recess."

He makes 'suggestions' as to what action Mrs May should take tackle the deadlock, including the introduction of legislation in September to "equalise" abortion and same-sex marriage rights.

He suggests bringing in an international figure "the calibre of former US Senator George Mitchell" to help bring the parties together and get the institutions up and running which he says he believed would command "widespread support across the communities".

The outspoken Labour Peer became involved in an online spat with the DUP MP for South Belfast, Emma Pengelly, following his trip after he claimed the DUP 'want' the 'hardest possible Brexit' for cultural and political reasons.

Ms Pengelly dismissed his views as 'absolute lies'.

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