Fermanagh man quits as senior Tory adviser

A FERMANAGH man who was a senior adviser to the Conservative party has quit the party in response to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to leave a D-Day commemoration early, citing the Enniskillen bomb as a “catalyst” for his resignation.

With the election campaigning now underway in earnest, Mr Sunak caused controversy last week after leaving the event in Normandy to pre-record an ITV interview. He has since apologised for his actions, stating it had been a mistake to leave the commemoration.

Among those outraged by the move was Enniskillen native Ian Acheson, an expert on prisons and extremism, who had been serving as an adviser to outgoing cabinet member, Michael Gove.


In a resignation letter published in part by The Telegraph, Mr Acheson said he felt Mr Sunak’s actions were “a colossal act of disrespect,” with the Fermanagh author stating he would always put “country before party.”

“It was an act of either colossal stupidity or cynical calculation,” he wrote.

“Either way, it revealed to me that while I still embrace a conservative philosophy, I am no longer willing to have it outsourced to a bunch of mendacious, incompetent and disreputable clowns.”

Having advised Mr Gove and the government on measures to tackle extremism, and on prison reform, Mr Acheson said Mr Sunak’s actions had been the final straw for him, and he did not want to be associated with a party that conducted itself in such a way.

“Electioneering ahead of a solemn commemoration of those who gave so much for the freedoms we enjoy today is simply unforgivable,” he said.

“And, I might add, alien to the core values of the party I joined.”

Mr Acheson, whose uncle fought in World War II, said the veterans at the Normandy event “are not going to be around for the next anniversary” and for Mr Sunak to leave to to record an interview was “indefensible.”


Addressing his decision to quit the Tory party on his X account (formerly Twitter), pointed to the Remembrance Day bombing of Enniskillen.

“People have asked me why the PM’s grossly disrespectful decision to put electioneering above his duty to our country made me quit the party. It might seem an odd catalyst to some. Cynical. Opportunistic even. I hope this explains,” he wrote, going on to point to a previous post he had made on the Enniskillen bomb.

In his quoted post, which he had previously published on the anniversary of the atrocity, he wrote, “On this day in 1987, IRA terrorists murdered 12 people in my home town who were attending a Remembrance Sunday service.

“Every day I work to help combat the horror and misery of violent extremism, I think of these people.”

Mr Acheson is a former prison officer and civil servant who is a visiting professor at Staffordshire University and a senior adviser at the Counter Extremism Project. He was also an executive director of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The Enniskillen man was commissioned by Mr Gove, as Levelling Up Secretary, to conduct an independent review into extremism in British prisons.

To read more on this story see this week’s Fermanagh Herald. Can’t get to the shop to collect your copy? No problem! You can download a copy straight to your device by following this link… Subscribe to current edition

To read more.. Subscribe to current edition

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA