The week outside Westminster

Ed Jacobs looks back at the week's events in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland

• It was feared that the UUP leadership race could tear the party apart.

• It emerged that Bill Clinton would be visiting Northern Ireland next month.

An 8-year-old boy discovered a pipe bomb outside an Antrim Primary School.

• UUP Deputy Leader, Danny Kennedy called for changes to the law to prevent Sinn Fein taking up the position of First Minister.

• DUP MP and MLA, Jeffrey Donaldson said that talks to secure compensation from the Libyan government for victims of IRA terrorism were “making progress”.

• The Director General of MI5 highlighted the scale of the threat posed by dissidents.

• Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice warned, “Any efficiencies or cuts must be implemented in a thoughtful and appropriate way so as not to undermine the system of justice.”

• First Minister, Peter Robinson warned his Ministers not to play party politics with the impending cuts.

• It was reported that one of the Army’s most senior counter-explosives officers was being recalled from Afghanistan to help combat the threat from dissidents.

• Public sector union, NIPSA argued that public sector job losses need not be an inevitable consequences of the spending review.

• Northern Ireland Secretary, Owen Paterson warned that he would reappoint the Parades Commission if Northern Ireland’s parties did not come up with a replacement.

• Sinn Fein MLA, Mitchell McLaughlin said that cuts “proposed or imposed by the British government must be challenged and resisted”.


• Andy Coulson was called on to provide evidence in the perjury trial of former Scottish Socialist Party Leader, Tommy Sheridan.

Finance Secretary John Swinney warned of £3.7 billion of cuts over four years.

• Labour were 10 points ahead of the SNP in a new poll.

• Scotland on Sunday revealed that Conservative HQ had all but shut out the Scottish Party.

• Advisers to the Pope called for him to avoid making any provocative statements when he visits Scotland later in the month.

• NUS Scotland reported that student hardship at reached “crisis levels.”

• Frank Blin, Head of PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Scotland concluded, “Personally, I think the next 12 to 18 months may be even tougher than the last. Our journey out of recession will not be a sprint – rather a long, hard road”.

• The Scottish Police Federation voiced its fears that cuts could mean 2800 fewer officers in Scotland.

• Former First Minister, Jack McConell came out to support David Miliband’s bid for Labour leader.

• SNP MP Stewart Hosie forced the Government to explain the fiasco over tax payments.

• Housing Minister, Alex Neil warned of the devastation that the ConDems cuts will do to the housing sector.

• Alex Salmond presented his Government’s final programme before the election as opposition leaders lined up to attack it and him.

• There were fears for Scottish shipbuilding jobs as the head of BAE systems revealed that the UK Government was considering cancelling a current £5.2 billion order for new aircraft carriers.

• The Government said it would consult with local authorities over a possible end to the council tax freeze.

• MSPs claimed £11.7 million worth of expenses last year.


• Welsh Labour MP, Chris Bryant, thought to have had his phone tapped by the News of the World bluntly concluded, “I simply do not believe Andy Coulson’s version of events.”

• Plaid Cymru MP, Jonathan Edwards declared, “The Parliamentary Reform Bill is a total mess.”

Plaid Cymru called for the UK Government to provide extra economic assistance to Wales.

• The Electoral Reform Society published research indicating that the coalition’s plans to cut the number of constituencies could see Wales loose more than a quarter of its MPs.

• Welsh Conservative MPs expressed their concerns over the coalition’s proposals for a referendum on AV and plans to cut the number of constituencies.

• Private sector employment in Wales was reported to be contracting.

• Social Justice and Local Government Minister, Carl Sargent began a Wales wide tour to hear how best to protect services facing cuts.

• Research by BBC Wales suggested that the NHS in Wales faces £380 million in cutbacks by April next year.

• Labour’s leadership candidates united in expressing their concerns that Wales will feel the brunt of the coalition’s cuts.

• Over 40 charities and voluntary organisations met with First Minister Carwyn Jones to identify their priorities for the Assembly and Government.

• Plaid Cymru leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones pledged that his party conference would be used to showcase an “ambitious and radical” agenda ahead of next May’s elections.

• Finance Minister, Jane Hutt pledged that protecting universal benefits would be a priority ahead of the Government’s budget.

Quote of the Week

“It’s absolutely crazy. It’s unbelievable that innocent children should be caught up in something like this.”

St Comgall’s Primary School head teacher, Hilary Cush, responding to news that one of his 8 year old pupils had discovered a pipe bomber near the school in Antrim

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