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Column 908power to call upon assemblies of three or more people to disperse : paragraph 4 of schedule 3, which allows the RUC to impose directions on the conduct of funerals and paragraph 5 of schedule 3, under which I can, by order close licensed premises and clubs for public order purposes. Lord Colville stated that each of those three powers could now be allowed to lapse, apart from one part of paragraph 4 of schedule 3, under which the police can require people taking part in funerals to travel by car.
The Government welcome those recommendations, and the order and regulations that we are considering today will give effect to them. I hope that the House recognises that that confirms our readiness to consider the provisions, to review them where sensible and to reduce powers that are no longer necessary, but only--I stress the word "only"--when it is safe to do so.
In that context, I also welcome and accept Lord Colville's recommendation that when the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1988 becomes law, the RUC's power of arrest under section 13 of the 1978 Act can lapse. That is the police's sole remaining arrest power under the emergency provisions Acts--thereafter, the police will rely on the power in the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984 or the ordinary criminal law. That further reduction in the emergency law would be another welcome adjustment in the balance of the law.
Mr. King : There are powers in the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 in the prevention of terrorism Act and in the ordinary criminal law. Rather than try to give a precise answer to that question off the cuff, I suggest that the hon. Gentleman studies Lord Colville's report because the powers that Lord Colville suggests can lapse will not leave gaps that would leave the RUC without proper powers of control. As Lord Colville identified, there is undoubtedly some duplication. We should like to achieve the least possible difference. The security forces have powers that make the emergency provisions redundant. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will
Mr. William Ross rose --
Mr. King : If the hon. Gentleman reads Lord Colville's report, he will find that that is his view--and it is our view also. I am putting forward our proposals only after close consultation with the RUC and the Army.
I turn now to the main findings of Lord Colville's report. As I have already said, Lord Colville makes it clear that, in general, the powers continue to be needed, but it is important that the powers are seen to be used fairly and impartially. Lord Colville also raised a difficult issue that had been raised previously--that of an alternative charge of manslaughter for members of the security forces who may be charged with the use of undue force or even with
Column 909murder. In the present circumstances, they can be found only guilty or not guilty of that serious charge, and it has been suggested that there should be an alternative charge of manslaughter. At the moment, Lord Windlesham is chairing a committee on murder and manslaughter and their treatment under the law. As that issue is under consideration, I propose to await the outcome of that committee's findings before commenting further. However, I entirely understand why Lord Colville raised that issue.
Elsewhere in his report, Lord Colville returned to the question of "certifying in". That is the idea that, instead of defendants being tried before a Diplock court, unless the Attorney-General decides otherwise, the presumption should be that they will be sent for a jury trial unless the case is certified in to a Diplock court. Since Lord Colville's report last year, the balance seems to have shifted more in favour of the idea of certifying in. As that might be perceived as a further step towards normality, we are willing to consider it seriously, especially if we find that the proposal is generally welcomed. I hope that those comments will be helpful. Likewise, we shall have another close look at Lord Colville's remarks about the video recording of terrorist interviews, although there are substantial arguments against such a course. Such arguments are partly rehearsed in Lord Colville's report, as is the question of the audio recording of terrorist interviews, but that also raises some difficult issues. However, as I have said, we shall reconsider that.
I have made it clear that the Government are pleased to accept most of Lord Colville's recommendations and that they are contained in the amending regulations. We shall reconsider his two points about certifying in and video recording and, as I have said, the issue of a manslaughter offence will be considered further in the light of the Windlesham findings.
The debate on these emergency provisions and the focusing on the powers that they contain can be misrepresented by others to suggest that the Government believe that, by these provisions alone, the serious situation and threat of terrorism can be effectively addressed. It is, of course, vital to ensure that in the exceptional difficulties and circumstances that the security forces face in protecting the community from attacks, from whichever quarter they may come, they have the necessary powers to enable them to discharge those responsibilities.
But as Lord Colville emphasised, it is absolutely vital that the powers about which I have talked--of arrest, of stop and search and of seizure-- are used in a responsible and proper manner. I know that the Chief Constable and General Officer Commanding, Northern Ireland attach the greatest importance to ensuring that all those concerned--be they constables or private soldiers, and whether they be in the RUC, the Regular Army or the UDR--at all times conduct themselves to the highest standards and in the best traditions of the regiments and organisations to which they belong.
Anybody who knows anything about Northern Ireland appreciates how easy it is for them to be, and how often they will be, subject to provocation--how people try to embarrass them and how young soldiers often find themselves in difficult circumstances, when a great deal is asked of them. We in this House must recognise, and pay tribute to, the way in which the overwhelming majority of
Column 910those young people, on finding themselves in often dangerous and frightening circumstances, still comply with and honour the codes under which they have been trained and instructed. We owe a great debt to them.
It is absolutely vital that they act in that way. When those standards are not maintained and when, sometimes under stress or pressure of one sort or another, one constable, young soldier or whoever it may be, slips from those standards, the propaganda machine can easily wind into action, criticism can easily arise and damage can be done to the whole reputation of the security forces, to the cause for which they stand and to the interests of a free society. I appreciate, therefore, why Lord Colville addressed these matters as he did. I appreciate also the enormous importance that those in authority give to ensuring that the people under their command understand the importance of all of this.
Apart from the exercise of these provisions, it is important, if we are to meet the threat of terrorism and the evil attack on democratic society that it represents, that in every respect we can be seen to be conducting administration--be it the administration of justice or of government in Northern Ireland--thoroughly, fairly and properly. I pay tribute to the courage, tremendous service and distinction of the judiciary, to all those involved in the courts service and particularly, in view of recent events, of all those involved in the legal profession, who seek to maintain the standards of justice in Northern Ireland.
We have had problems, for instance in the administration of justice. There have been problems over delays in cases coming forward, with considerable delays for people on remand. All of those have given rise to genuine feelings of grievance, with people believing that they have not been fairly treated. We owe it to the security forces and to those who stand in the front line to ensure that the other elements in our policy are fair and effective and do not give rise to grievance and disaffection in such a way that their task is made more difficult.
We must consider the situation in the courts, the proper administration of the courts, and have a fair and positive approach to prison policy. In economic policy, we must ensure that we create the opportunity for more employment, with fairness and equality of opportunity in the achievement of those jobs. We must provide a better environment and seek to ensure a better quality of housing ; establish higher standards and better opportunities in education, with more opportunity for education together by way of integrated education, cross-community contacts and schemes between schools and in further education or in other voluntary activities. All those features can contribute to what must be an effective and comprehensive Government policy towards addressing some of the tragedies and challenges that are represented by attitudes and the situation in Northern Ireland today.
It is the aim of the terrorist to destroy and intimidate, and to kill the hopes of a better life and future for the people in Northern Ireland. It is our ambition--as it is of every Member in this democratic House of Commons- -to see that the people of Northern Ireland have a chance of a better future, and better prospects and, through the defeat of the men of violence, to restore hope and opportunity to the Province.
We seek by many means to achieve that, but one necessary ingredient must be to ensure that the security forces, who stand in the front line against the most evil and
Column 911nasty elements that exist in the Province, have the powers and provisions to do their job. It is in that spirit that I commend the order to the House.
Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North) : Regrettably, once again we are obliged to discuss Northern Ireland business in the shadow of the gunman. Yesterday's murders demonstrated yet again the depth to which the conflict in Northern Ireland can sink. On behalf of the Opposition, I extend my condolences to the families of the victims.
I assure the Government that we are committed to the defeat of the so- called freedom fighters, whose vision of freedom is limited to the freedom of the graveyard. Our difference with the Government is how that goal can best be achieved. Whether one rejects or supports the order, no one can be satisfied that we should be obliged to debate yet another renewal order for the emergency provisions Acts. No hon. Member in any part of the House can take comfort from the fact that the Government feel it necessary to renew the Acts and thus admit that Northern Ireland continues to be a society in which armed soldiers are required to patrol the streets, in which police officers are obliged to carry arms and in which many of the human rights that we take for granted are suspended.
The Labour party realises that there is a serious problem which requires the use of the Army and which necessitates an armed police force. But we do not accept that human rights can be suspended indefinitely without defeating the purpose which the security forces are trying to achieve--the protection of those same rights against the would-be dictators of the paramilitary groups.
The strategy adopted by the Government places the security forces in an invidious position. My party cannot accept that the policy of containment alone, which appears to be adopted by the
Government--despite what the Secretary of State said--is viable, and therefore we shall vote against the order.
It has long been accepted by the security forces that they are engaged in a holding operation the objective of which is to provide the space for political leaders to devise effective institutions for the Province. Without such political reforms, the role of the security forces becomes a demoralising exercise in futility. The longer the politicians hide behind the security forces and rely on them to deal with the problems which emerge from the political morass in Northern Ireland, the more intractable the problems become, the more difficult is the position of the security forces and the more difficult becomes the possibility of a political settlement. Ultimately, emergency legislation has a corrupting and counter-productive effect. I say corrupting in the sense that the persistence of the emergency leads Ministers and other political leaders to lose the sense of urgency that the occasion demands. It is counter-productive because the suspension of human rights eventually becomes the abolition of those rights, thus accentuating the political problems which gave rise to the emergency in the first place, and so the vicious spiral continues.
It is useless to deny that the security forces face a major problem in the Province, but it is equally foolish to deny that they are part of the problem. They are asked to
Column 912operate on behalf of political institutions whose legitimacy is contested by part of the population. As a result, the security forces are not accepted in the same way as they would be in other democratic societies. Continuing to allow them the use of powers which they would not need in other democratic societies is an abdication of political responsibility by the leaders in the Province, for which the security forces pay the price. That again is why we shall vote against the order.
Having said that, I am pleased that the Secretary of State has decided to act upon some elements of Lord Colville's report on the operation of the legislation. It is a pity that the Government were not more forthcoming on his report on the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984. Although I do not agree with all the conclusions in the report, I believe that it contains a significant number of comments and recommendations which reflect the views of my party.
I want to single out two issues identified by Lord Colville as being of particular importance. In paragraph 1.5 he stated : "The battle for hearts and minds should be the paramount preoccupation of those who exercise emergency powers."
Although the Labour party believes that the emergency powers themselves are a factor in sustaining grievances which encourage violence, their impact can be significantly attenuated or accentuated by the ways in which the powers are exercised in the homes, on the streets and in the courts.
Lord Colville gives a striking example. The end of the supergrass trials has removed a particularly damaging threat to public confidence in the Diplock courts. Those courts will still be unlikely to gain the compete legitimacy that the judicial institutions in Britain or even the ordinary criminal courts in Northern Ireland enjoy because of the way in which they were instituted, but at least it is possible now to avoid some of the practices which throw the administration of justice into complete public disrepute. Another issue which Lord Colville raised correctly was the standard of behaviour of the security forces. Critics may object that hon. Members demand an excessively high standard of behaviour from the police and the Army, confronted as they are by paramilitaries whose contempt for human rights is only equalled by their hypocrisy on the subject. Faced with sectarian killers, bombers and vigilantes, there is a natural temptation to take off the kid gloves. That is precisely what must not be allowed to happen. I know that the Secretary of State agrees with me on that, as he said earlier.
We expect high standards from the security forces precisely because they are there to provide security, not insecurity. It is in the best interests of the security forces that they occupy the high moral ground. That increases the chance of defeating the paramilitaries, eventually allowing for the establishment for the first time of recognisably normal forms of policing in Northern Ireland, which is the aim of every party in the House.
I am, therefore, concerned that even after last year's debate the 1982 shootings in Armagh have not yet been laid to rest. On the one hand, the inquest proceedings have been hindered by the negative attitude of the Government in appealing from the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland to the House of Lords, and now, tragically, by the death of Patrick Finucane, the solicitor murdered after the ill-advised comments by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department,‡ the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg). One of Northern
Column 913Ireland's most experienced legal figures, Sir Oliver Napier, the current chairman of the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights, has pointed out :
"I would hope that Ministers of the Crown would learn that in Northern Ireland words can kill and that their words can be used to justify murder. If those two lessons are learned, Pat Finucane will not have died in vain."
Perhaps the Under-Secretary of State has realised the error of his ways and even wishes to forget the remarks that he made, regrettably, in the Standing Committee. That seems to be his attitude because in letters to people who complained about what he said, he now talks about "remarks attributed to me". I do not know what reflection that is upon the people who write for Hansard, or even on the members of the press who were there and heard what he said, or on members of the Committee. Now that he is referring to "remarks attributed to me", I wonder at what stage he will forget that he ever said them.
Mr. Ian Gow (Eastbourne) : The hon. Gentleman has made a serious allegation against my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg). He read out part of a letter which I think he said was written by my hon. Friend. Does the hon. Gentleman think that he would be fair if he read out to the House not only that short phrase but the longer passage or the whole paragraph from which he selected those words?
"This is a tragic and wicked killing. I very much hope that those responsible will be brought before the courts as soon as possible. As to the identity of those responsible or the circumstances in which the murder has taken place, that is a matter for the RUC. I entirely agree with the views Tom King expressed on this matter on Monday 13 February and reject any connection between Mr. Finucane's murder and remarks attributed to me. To seek to make political points on the back of such a tragedy is unworthy and does nobody any credit".
It does no one any credit either to deny what he has said or to seek to give an impression by the use of the word "attributed" that that was not the point he made.
Mr. Gow rose--
In regard to confidence in police matters, the internal police proceedings should be speedily concluded in the Stalker affair. I hope that they will be completed before the new chief of the RUC takes over. Not only would that improve confidence in the administration of the RUC but it would be fair to the police officers who have been kept in a state of uncertainty for far too long. Public confidence in the RUC has been damaged by the failure to clear up the affair.
The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) has raised the case of the Armagh four. I have had an opportunity to read the documents which he sent to my right hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock). On the strength of those documents, there are grounds for concern about the case. I hope that the Secretary of State will consider carefully the points made by the hon. Gentleman. I agree entirely with Lord Colville's second major point. In paragraph 3 of the report he stated :
Column 914"I have approached the review on a simple basis, that the emergency legislation should not remain in force unless the case for it is clearly established."
It is clear from the review that that approach extends to the parts as well as the whole. That is an important principle which should not be overlooked. We cannot allow emergency legislation or any emergency powers to remain on the statute book simply through the force of inertia. There is a duty to assess constantly the validity of responses to the paramilitary threat, both in terms of the action on the ground by the security forces, and the policies put into practice by the Secretary of State and by the legislative decisions of the House.
That cannot be confined to the annual reports by the reviewer appointed by the Secretary of State, estimable though the reviewer is and the reports may be. There is already in existence a statutory watchdog for that purpose --the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights established by Parliament under section 20 of the Northern Ireland Act 1974. I regret that the Secretary of State has not treated the commision with sufficient respect in the past year, as he has ignored its views and in some cases its right to be consulted over several issues. As the commission chairman pointed out in a statement on 19 January :
"I am fearful that everything the commission is doing to promote human rights in Northern Ireland will be cut from under us if the Government does not make greater use of the consultative process which in a democratic society is absolutely essential. The cumulative impact of what Government is doing is most worrying"
However, the Secretary of State has decided to accept the advice of Lord Colville concerning those parts of the Act which are no longer necessary. I welcome his decision to allow section 24 to lapse and to amend schedule 3. Those powers are unnecessary as they are now covered by other parts of the law. I hope that the Government will act in a similar way in regard to section 13, in the order which I presume will be laid before the House next year--unfortunately. I say unfortunately in the context that all such legislation is unfortunate. I welcome what the Secretary of State said about section 13.
The police power of arrest under section 13 is clearly superfluous, having been used only once, in the first six months of 1988. I suspect that it is something of an embarrassment to the police, and was used only by accident when police officers became confused by the plethora of powers at their disposal. I shall return to that point later and refer to the need for clarity in the law, on which I disagree with the Secretary of State's conclusions.
I am also pleased that Lord Colville recommended that the process of certifying out cases from the Diplock court should be replaced by a system of certifying in. Opposition Members have urged that course for a considerable time. Therefore, we very much welcome the Secretary of State's statement that he is considering that as a sensible option. I believe that that would be one stage closer to restoring the law to normality. If cases are certified in that would be an unusual procedure, and we would improve the position so that there would be more trials by jury.
Perhaps one of the most contentious aspects of the Acts are the powers of internment contained in section 12 and schedule 1 of the 1978 Act. I am pleased that the Secretary of State has had the good sense to continue to allow those powers to lapse, despite urgings from some parts of the House. No Government, since the end of internment in 1976, have considered internment to be a sensible or
Column 915effective method of dealing with the paramilitaries. However, permitting the power of internment, even if it is dormant, to remain on the statute book presents certain problems. For many in the Province, the distinction is too subtle and demands an awareness of legislative procedure that I doubt exists, and in any case is sometimes misleading.
In Northern Ireland, it is correctly assumed that the Secretary of State can simply sign detention orders at any time he sees fit and fill the prison ships once again. Although an Order in Council would be necessary, the detainees could be in custody long before Parliament had the opportunity to consider the order. Because of that, the power of internment is not dormant in a political sense. It is a live issue which the paramilitaries are only too willing to exploit in the aftermath of their periodic spectacular atrocities, using the threat, and its emotive connotations, to divert attention from their own commitment to violate human rights.
A clear political sign that internment is not an option should be given by removing the power from the statute book. Its existence is a constant reminder to the people of Northern Ireland of the fragility and contested legitimacy of political institutions in the Province. There are of course aspects of the report with which I disagree, such as the length of periods of remand. The Secretary of State spoke about his new powers in that sphere and we hope to see them in operation fairly soon. Nevertheless, remand periods continue to be excessive. Although efforts have been made to reduce periods spent on remand, the figures remain unacceptably high. According to the statistics published by the Northern Ireland Office, in the first six months of 1988 the average period between first remand and sentencing or discharge was 234 days. Such a state of affairs enables supporters of the paramilitaries to gain credence for claims that internment by remand exists in Northern Ireland. To eliminate that source of controversy, the Secretary of State should make use of his powers under section 3 of the 1987 Act.
Another issue connected with the emergency which has attracted increasing concern is the problem of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences. The review procedure for setting release dates is attracting increasing concern because of the apparent lack of precision and lack of understanding by the parties involved. We hope that the Government will be able to establish clear and objective criteria for the setting of release dates to reduce the degree of uncertainty and insecurity which afflicts prisoners and their families. We recognise that there are difficulties, but they are not insuperable. We believe that it is in the best interests of good order in the prisons, of the families of the prisoners and of the community that there should be no unnecessary sources of grievances in the prison system.
The Labour party also believes that there is a need to reform the present Diplock court system. I accept that some progress has been made in increasing confidence in the courts, but as long as the sole judge and jury are one and the same, there will be a credibility gap. An effective alternative would be the establishment of three-judge courts. That has also been recommended by the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights.
Column 916Another area of concern is the admissibility of evidence. Although section 5 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1987 rules out confessions obtained by torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, or by violence or threat of violence, it does not require confessions to be voluntary. I do not share the conclusions of the review on that issue. The courts have interpreted that section in a way which has been regarded as strengthening the position of the prosecution. Once again, confidence in the judicial process has been somewhat reduced. The trend towards the acceptance of involuntary confessions is now to be reinforced powerfully by the possibility of drawing inferences from silence under interrogation permitted by the Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1988. Furthermore, there have been some worrying signs from what goes on during interrogations, as was demonstrated in the Gillen and Forbes cases which are recent, not ancient, history that interrogation rules have been violated and excessive force has been used in some cases. For those reasons it is more urgent than ever that the taping of interviews in police stations should be introduced, as should videoing, as Lord Colville has recommended. Unfortunately, Lord Colville's recommendations did not make completely clear whether videoing meant a silent recording of what went on or whether such videos should include a soundtrack. We believe that the videos should include a soundtrack. The power of the police to deny legal advice to detainees should also be removed, rather than regulated as it is at present.
I was interested to read Lord Colville's comments on the codes of practice for the police and the Army. I hope that those codes will be finalised and published as soon as possible. I feel sure that the Secretary of State and the security forces will wish to avoid the nonsense surrounding the publication of the RUC document "Professional Policing Ethics" at 3.30 on a Friday afternoon. We believe that all codes of practice issued to the RUC and the Army should be published. Given that the whole point of the codes of practice is to convince the public that the security forces behave impartially, there is no reason to keep them under wraps. We are also in favour of giving statutory effect to the codes of practice to ensure that they are not simply instruments for the effective management of the security forces. It is equally important to ensure that members of the public can secure redress and that action is taken publicly to deal with violations of the code. As the aftermath of the Stalker affair revealed, disciplinary hearings in private cannot replace the court room as a forum for winning and maintaining public confidence in the police and the Army.
Finally, I return to the clarity of the criminal law, a matter to which the Secretary of State referred. Lord Colville has twice suggested that the emergency provisions Acts and certain sections of the Prevention of Terrorism Act should be consolidated into separate legislation. That is a welcome suggestion, but I believe that we need to go much further and examine the total picture and the inter-relationship of the various parts of the criminal law with the emergency law and the non-emergency law.
At the most basic level, there is an urgent need to clarify the law for the security forces as well as for the average citizen. Ministers themselves have been somewhat confused, as has been shown by the remarks on searches made by the Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, and the recent controversy which the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office provoked by his views on the
Column 917powers of the security forces to demand dates of birth. Not only does it make Ministers a laughing stock, but, more importantly, it is detrimental to public confidence in the law. Furthermore, it also gives the impression of a piecemeal and haphazard security policy. If we are to have an emergency law, it should be clear, coherent and concise. There should be no powers which are not needed and no duplication of powers with other emergency powers or with the ordinary criminal law. We should not fall into the trap of believing that the criminal law alone can solve the problems of Northern Ireland.
As the Government fail to address those challenges, I call upon the House to reject the order. Until the Government grasp the reality of Northern Ireland politics and make moves to establish fully legitimate political arrangements for the Province and make proper use of the potential contained in the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and until they realise that there are no military solutions in Northern Ireland, the present depressing climate is likely to prevail. As the emergency provisions Act, far from being a determined response to the paramilitary threat, epitomises political lethargy, the Labour party is obliged to vote against the order.
Rev. William McCrea (Mid-Ulster) : I rise with a heavy heart having experienced yesterday evening a most despicable and diabolical sectarian attack in my constituency which left three decent civilians dead in the village of Coagh. It is significant that we are debating the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts 1978 and 1987 (Continuance) Order 1989 only a few hours after the slaughter of the innocents.
I want first to express my sincere appreciation to the members of the security forces for their faithful service to the Ulster community in very dangerous and trying circumstances. Words of appreciation are not sufficient to express our debt of gratitude to the thousands of young men and women who wear the uniform in defence of freedom, especially during the past years of continuing murderous attacks by the Provisional IRA.
The security situation, unfortunately, continues to deteriorate and a very dangerous situation is about to explode. After 20 years, why do we come to the House today to debate the continuance of emergency provisions? After 20 years, why have the terrorist attacks not ceased or the terrorists been defeated?
I must declare that, unfortunately and sadly, there has been success in the terrorist camp and there are many reasons for that success. One of the reasons why we have to debate these emergency provisions after 20 years is that there is popular support for terrorism within a portion of the republican and nationalist community in Northern Ireland. There is no doubt that the IRA and its political wing, Sinn Fein, can boast considerable popular support in the Roman Catholic community. However, it must also be said that many Roman Catholics find the actions of the murder gangs repugnant. Unfortunately, many find themselves in large republican enclaves in the Province and they are held under the heel of terror. The defeat of terrorism would not only release the majority community in Northern Ireland, the Unionist population, from the heel of the terrorists ; it would also release many of the decent Roman Catholics as well.
Column 918Unfortunately, over many years there has been a breeding of anti-British hatred and that has been expressed through the use of the gun. I speak with the support of the vast majority of the people in the Province, and, although Ministers may deny this, the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement was a signal to the terrorists as is shown in the infamous words of Danny Morrison following its signing, "We have now proved that more violence will gain more concessions." Unfortunately, the violence continues.
There has been a lack of resolute action against the terrorist gangs. I was interested in the remarks made by the Secretary of State in reaction to my hon. Friend the Member for North Down (Mr. Kilfedder) about the availability of finances for the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Around Castlederg terrorist attacks have been common and members of the security forces are continually under threat. Some 400 serving members and ex- members of the security forces must be protected by the soft target protection unit. Is it right for the Secretary of State to claim that all is well when there are only 11 members of the STPU to care for 400 people over miles of countryside? I have spoken to members and ex-members of the RUC and the Ulster Defence Regiment and I know that in that border area they feel in grave danger. They believe that there is insufficient protection for them in their homes or when they try to defend the freedom in that area.
It cannot be right for the Secretary of State to claim that all is well. Reserve Constable Monteith was murdered recently in Castlederg at the town's check-point. As the town is so close to the border and because of the evident danger to members of the security forces manning that check- point, a promise was made that three people would man the check-point at all times. Only one person was available to man it on the day that reserve Constable Monteith was murdered. Reserve Constable Monteith was not working that day, but an hour after the check-point was to be opened, he received a telephone call telling him to report for duty because there was no second person to man it. No third person was available ; the IRA saw the breach in security and reserve Constable Monteith was murdered and buried as a result.
I make my appeal with the full knowledge and support of the members of the security forces serving in that area.
Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough) : I have listened to the hon. Gentleman in these debates for several years, but he never refers to killings carried out by the so-called loyalists. Does he, along with the rest of us, condemn killings no matter which side carries them out? Does he not think, therefore, that he should mention the loyalist killings, many of which have happened recently?
I have made it absolutely clear that Ulster does not need any killings and I want to see the security forces carrying out an effective policy throughout the Province which will remove the men of terror right across the community. That is what I want for Northern Ireland. In the five or six years
Column 919that I have been a Member of this House I have still to hear the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) state genuinely that he has much pity for the loyalist community, which has suffered so much over the past 20 years from the murderous thugs of the IRA. As usual, the hon. Gentleman wants to draw us away from the attacks. All I am talking about is an innocent RUC man and I suppose that that is not enough for the hon. Member for Hillsborough. I am concerned about members of the security forces who are in danger and I have been asked to make representations on their behalf by the people who elected me. It ill becomes any hon. Member to try to play down the serious threat faced by members of the security forces from callous, cowardly bunches of thugs and terrorists who do not care whether they murder Protestants or Roman Catholics. Members of the security forces do not believe that there are sufficient personnel to protect Castlederg in my constituency. The other evening I spoke at a meeting there. A call was put out to me as a Member of Parliament that, since we were only half a mile from the border, there should be extra security personnel.
Castlederg police station is close to the border and the town is more vulnerable to and has faced more bomb attacks than any other. In its graveyard a dozen UDR men and reserve personnel are lying in their coffins, yet whenever a call is made for more personnel, the answer comes back "Sorry, we have only two people to cover the complete area and no one is available to go out in a car because the station will be left without personnel". I should be delighted for the Secretary of State to check that. Personnel from Strabane covered the meeting that evening.
Unfortunately, my constituency is in the border area and the community faces attacks from terrorists hiding in the safe haven of the Irish Republic.
In answer to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for North Down the Secretary of State painted a picture of sufficient manpower and security force members to do the job. I hope, perhaps in a written reply, I shall receive an answer about what happened in the specific cases I have mentioned. I owe it to the gallant members of the security forces to make my voice heard in their support in the House. If members come to me fearing that the lives of people along the border are at risk because there are not enough personnel, it is only right and proper that, as the representative of that area, I should do that.
I know that in the past certain hon. Members have befriended IRA personnel and brought them into the House. I know that the House does not want to hear this, but we are in an emergency. Unfortunately, 20 years on, it is still an emergency, and I shall explain why. Recent events in the Province show that the vicious nature of the campaign is gaining momentum and crudeness.
What I have to say may not bother some people but yesterday, in my constituency, a business man and his wife returned from shopping in Cookstown. The man entered his garage while his wife sat in the car waiting for their two children--a boy of 14 and a girl of 16--to return from school. For those who do not know cosy, quiet, Coagh village, the garage was run by 39-year-old stock car ace,
Column 920Lesley Dallas. He was the European hot rod champion in 1986 and lived for his stock car racing and his little business, which he had built up with pride.
Quite rightly, he was the pride and joy of his wife and two children, who loved him dearly. How proud they were last Saturday when he went to the silver jubilee race at Ballymena hot rod meeting and came second. He felt that he had achieved honour for his family and district.
I grew up with Lesley Dallas--we played around the same houses and went to the same school. Lesley Dallas was one year younger than me. With Lesley lying in his coffin at home, am I supposed to come to the House and be Mr. Nice Guy for everyone to applaud, and to whom everyone can say how nice everything is? Tomorrow we shall bury Lesley Dallas and not one hon. Member --other than Unionist representatives--will go through the door of his house to say that they are sorry about what happened. They will never take the hand of Mrs. Dallas or her 14-year-old son or 16-year-old daughter, or of his widowed mother, sitting broken-hearted and riddled with arthritis in the corner.
I can assure the House that the hon. Member for Hillsborough--who was quick to get to his feet a few moments ago--will not pass through the Dallas door to speak to the sorrowing family. I would take more seriously comments from someone who knows what it is to walk into houses where there is death and who has experienced what it is to look into the face of bereaved loved ones. Such a person could not walk away with a pious attitude or a smile on his face after such an occasion. There is nothing glorious about that, or-- as I will be doing tomorrow--about attending three funerals and going from one house to the next, to the next, for the burial of three constituents. I am sure that when I offer my sympathy and sorrow to the families I shall not be crowded out by a lot of hon. Members.
Lesley Dallas, whom I knew very well, stood with his hands in his pockets listening to a joke and was gunned down in cold blood as his wife was forced to crouch in the car seeking to avoid the bullets fired around her. Unfortunately, the race--remember he was a stock car driver--of life finished suddenly for Lesley Dallas yesterday as he leaned against his garage door laughing at a joke with his neighbours.
Austin Nelson, the father of four children--his daughter is a member of my congregation--appeared on television one night playing the fiddle. His only crime was that he was a fiddle player. He spoke on television about his retirement hobby of violin making and, at the end of the programme, he said that he hoped that he would be long spared, not only to make fiddles and violins for his children and grandchildren but to give people happiness by listening to the music he played. Last year, Austin went on a special course in Cambridge to further his hobby. His gracious nature won him the respect and affection of his neighbours. One evening, he entered a garage to enjoy what in Ulster is called a good bit of "crack" or humour. Last night, less than 24 hours later, Austin reappeared on television, this time, not as a man playing a fiddle but as a body being carried off the street of Coagh. This time, the news was the announcement of his murder.
Ernie Rankin, who was 72, was a very popular Coagh character with a keen interest in football. He had no relatives and the people of the area adopted him as a son of the village. They fed him, looked after him and gathered him in on Sunday afternoons because he was a person who
Column 921liked simply country humour. Ernie enjoyed nothing better than a hearty chat and a laugh to dispel the loneliness of his life. He was nearly blind : if an IRA man had been standing in front of him, he could not have recognised him. He enjoyed company. He was called-- we can see why from the photographs--the Coagh Jimmy Savile because of the way he kept his hair.
Lesley Dallas will not be driving this Saturday ; Austin Nelson will not be entertaining with his fiddle on any more stages ; and old Ernie Rankin, the simple, retired, loving pensioner, will not be walking Coagh street befriending everyone that passes by, irrespective of who they are.
How did these men die? At 10 past 4 in the afternoon Coagh main street turned into a scene from a John Wayne western. Outside Coagh the men were seen donning their masks. The hooded gunmen drove in and sprayed the garage corner with indiscriminate fire. Three men were murdered. Mrs. Gibson was in the car as the gunfire surrounded it. Mr. Gibson's brother was in the back of the garage as the gun fire spread through it--thank God they were saved.
No sooner had the gunmen done their deed than a bus stopped and a 14-year- old boy stepped off it, immediately opposite the place where his dad way lying in a pool of blood. A second bus pulled up behind the first and a 16- year-old girl stepped off it and walked over, not to meet her mother with joy to find out what she had bought in the shops, but to find her mother screeching and her father lying with his two friends with whom he had been sharing a joke, in a pool of blood.
After completing their task the gunmen drove down the Ballinderry road. Again, it was like a John Wayne film. As they drove away they continued firing indiscriminately into the air and then started cheering. It was another job well done. And some hon. Members, with their friendships, claim that these are the heroes and soldiers of Ireland. They are nothing better than cold-blooded murderers ; let no one try to paint them in any other light.
Some weeks ago, the president of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams, and Martin McGuinness talked about refined violence and avoiding civilian casualties. The Unionist population knew that that was eyewash, and so it has proved. It was pathetic to hear the media trotting out IRA excuses for the Coagh carnage. First they said it was retaliation ; then they changed their story, claiming that the garage was a UVF hideout. A 72-year-old pensioner, a 61-year-old retired man who took up the hobby of violin-making and a 39- year-old stock car racing driver who was looked upon as a champion in the community--these were the supposed conspirators. This was nothing more than a sectarian killing ; none of the people was connected with any political party or paramilitary organisation, as the police have made clear. The legislation has not dealt with the emergency. If it had, we would not be here talking about it 20 years on. This same village had a 1,000 lb bomb placed in it last September. The bomb was left at the police station. This was not an attack on the security forces--the IRA knew that only an unlicensed dog was guarding the police station. The IRA thought that the time was right to place a 1,000 lb bomb there, not to kill the dog but to murder people living in an adjacent estate, whose inhabitants were 100 per cent. Protestant. Through the mercy of God, they were not killed.
Listening to the Secretary of State discussing the changes that he accepts, one would think that affairs were