Shadow Secretary of State Hilary Benn visits Stormont and meets with parties

With Labour expected to come into power later this year, their Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Hilary Benn has been meeting with ministers and parties at Stormont.

Labour Shadow Secretary of State Hilary Benn is in Belfast meeting with the Speaker and political parties today.

Hilary Benn MP was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in September 2023 during Labour leader Keir Starmer‘s reshuffle of his shadow cabinet.

It is highly anticipated that the Labour Party will come into power later this year, with Hilary Benn and Fleur Anderson taking up the two main jobs in the Northern Ireland Office. The latest poll by Opinium Research has Labour 16 points ahead of the Conservatives.

The Speaker of the Assembly Edwin Poots met the delegation, which also included Mike Kane MP, Shadow Minister for Aviation and Maritime, and Sarah Jones MP, Shadow Minister for Industry and Carbonisation.

DUP Junior Minister Pam Cameron and North Belfast MLA Philip Brett also met with the Shadow NI Secretary at Stormont today

Pam Cameron MLA said, “This was a very useful discussion with the Shadow Secretary of State and other Labour representatives. The DUP has always valued relationships with other parties across the House of Commons and from all parts of the United Kingdom. The upcoming meeting of the UK East-West Council this week highlights the benefits and opportunities that exist when we work together within the United Kingdom.”

Philip Brett MLA said, “Sir Kier Starmer has been clear that his focus is not on a border poll and the instability that would cause, but on building a stronger United Kingdom. That is a view we share, and particularly here in Northern Ireland we want to see the focus on issues that matter to everyone. Instead of focusing on divisive border polls, our goal must be to grow the economy and deliver better schools, hospitals and public services for all the people of Northern Ireland.”

The Alliance Party delegation that met with Hilary Benn included Paula Bradshaw MLA, Peter McReynolds MLA and David Honeyford MLA.

South Belfast MLA Paula Bradshaw said that they discussed “institutional reform and financial stability” and also started discussions on “aviation and carbonisation”.

Ulster Unionist Party deputy leader Robbie Butler said on X that he had “Great conversations with a delegation of Labour and Conservative MPs about a challenge of politics, closer working relations, opportunities for Northern Ireland and the forthcoming general election.”

It is expected that the Shadow Ministers will also meet with First Minister Michelle O’Neill and Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly. No other parties have released any statements as of yet – we will update this article as and when they do.

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