Irish Republican News · September 4, 2012
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Paterson replaced as British Direct Ruler


Theresa Villiers MP is to replace Owen Paterson as Britain’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

The 44-year-old from Barnet in London takes over as British Direct Ruler at a difficult time in the North following two nights of parades-related rioting in north Belfast.

The decision was taken as part of a cabinet reshuffle announced in London today by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

She is a brother of the 4th ‘Earl of Clarendon’ George Villiers and has represented the constituency of Chipping Barnet, situated between Hertfordshire and Finchley in north London, since 2005.

She is a former barrister with an interest in aviation, and served in Tory leader David Cameron’s shadow cabinet before being named Minister of State for Transport in 2010.

While Villiers remains a relative unknown in Ireland, the departure of Paterson, who becomes Cameron’s Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, will be strongly applauded.

Reviled among Irish republicans, Paterson will always be identified with the re-introduction of selective internment without trial, as well as the policy of criminalisation of political prisoners.

His high-handed approach to British rule in the North, coupled with a habit of berating the Six-County politicians at Stormont, made him a highly unpopular figure across a range of political opinion in Ireland. However, the hardline posturing won admirers among British rightists, and his move to Environment will be seen as a reward for managing the unpopular Northern Ireland post for over two years.

The appointment of Villiers, the first woman to be appointed to the post since the relatively popular Mo Mowlam, will be seen as an attempt to bring a more human outlook to British rule in Ireland and boost hopes for the peace process.

However, her ‘true blue’ Tory background is unlikely to help her make an impact on the deep political and sectarian problems in the north of Ireland, where a clean-up is continuing following a second night of riots and intimidation.

Scores of loyalists, orchestrated by the paramilitary UVF and UDA, throw petrol bombs in clashes with the PSNI police in the Carlisle Circus/Denmark Street area of Belfast.

In a rare display of aggression against loyalists, the PSNI used water cannon and fired six baton rounds against rioters.

The violence was intended to place pressure on the Parades Commission ahead of a giant sectarian parade planned for the North later this month, marking the 100th anniversary of the Ulster Covenant and the first of a series of contentious centenaries taking place over the next decade.

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© 2012 Irish Republican News