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Column 530that it will not get it. It did not get it in the past, and will never do so in the future, and it is malicious to suggest otherwise. I shall expand on the point made by the hon. Member for Londonderry, East (Mr. Ross). We have never suggested for one moment that we have any control over anybody in the north of Ireland who commits violence, and we do not--I readily admit that. But we have said that, if there were agreement between the parties at the negotiations, and that agreement was recognised by some sort of mandate--we would suggest referenda in the north and south--it would have a potent effect on public opinion in the whole of Ireland and would make it more difficult for the men of violence to operate. I readily admit that it would not stop them, but it would make it much more difficult for them to operate and make it much easier for the political process and to do what we must do in the island of Ireland.
Mr. Ross : The hon. Gentleman responded to me in the terms that I had expected. But I do not agree with his conclusions. I do not believe that it would be any easier to deal with Sinn Fein and its violent wing, the IRA, because they would see that there was something to be gained. They often tell us that they have made tremendous sacrifices in the nationalist population which they will not forget. They say that they will not give up, but will continue the struggle until the last vestige of British influence is removed from the island of Ireland. I say to Sinn Fein spokesmen and their IRA gunmen that the unionist population has also paid a high price to remain British. Anyone who thinks that we shall forget those who died in defence of the freedoms and values that sent people such as me to this place had better think again. We are not defeated by, or afraid of, the IRA. As a people we have paid a tremendous price, and we have no intention of surrendering our British heritage.
Rev. William McCrea : Now that we are being offered the hope that some political settlement will take away support for Sinn Fein or the IRA, will the hon. Gentleman think back to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, when we were promised the very same thing? In reality, in recent by-elections, the Sinn Fein vote has increased rather than decreased.
Mr. Ross : The hon. Member should have restrained himself because I was coming to that point. As he has intervened on it, perhaps it is unnecessary for me to take it further. However, the reality is that in Northern Ireland about 100,000 people vote consistently for the IRA. Sometimes that support has fallen to 70,000 or 80,000 and sometimes it has increased to 120,000. On one occasion when the old Nationalist party decided not to contest elections to this place, its vote increased to 155,000. That was in 1955. In round terms, however, the IRA's vote is 100,000, taking into account tactical voting here and there. There are supporters of the IRA in Northern Ireland and, as the hon. Member for Mid- Ulster knows, they have always been there. They will not go away. They happen to believe in the politics, as it were, of the IRA. They happen to believe in violence and they practise it. Anyone who shuts his eyes to the brutal realities does Northern Ireland, himself, this country and above all the people of Northern Ireland no good. The supporters of the IRA have always been present and they always will be.
Column 531Mr. Roy Beggs (Antrim, East) : Does my hon. Friend agree that the perceived co-operation at district council level between members of the SDLP and Sinn Fein elected councillors causes considerable confusion and makes it difficult for us to understand exactly where the SDLP and its elected representatives stand on many issues?
I thought that I had covered that to which the hon. Member for Antrim, East (Mr. Beggs) referred in his intervention, when I said that tribal politics are a powerful force in Northern Ireland. I know that the SDLP sometimes has to play footsie with the more violent elements of its own community to gain, perhaps, long-term benefit. I think that it is mistaken to do so. It pays a heavy price when it is seen to be playing around with such folk. Surely it should oppose them ferociously whenever it is presented with the opportunity to do so. The IRA and its Sinn Fein mouthpieces operate in areas where Unionists are pretty few in any event. If the SDLP was prepared to oppose them on every occasion in those areas, it would eventually, slowly but surely, overcome the men of violence, it being a moderate party. If it cannot overcome them in its own camps, it cannot expect the Unionist population to win elections on the Bogside, in the Creggan or in west Belfast. The only party that can defeat Sinn Fein in those areas is the SDLP.
Mr. Mallon : Has it struck the hon. Gentleman that the hon. Members for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) and for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) are sitting in this place by the grace and favour of Provisional Sinn Fein? If it were not for Provisional Sinn Fein, neither hon. Member would be a Member of this place. Has that not struck the hon. Gentleman?
Rev. William McCrea : On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it correct for an hon. Member to say that another hon. Member is here by the grace of the murder gangs of the constituency, especially when my constituency and my family have suffered more from the murderers than any other Member of this place?
Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd) : Every hon. Member is responsible for the comments that he or she makes. I hope to be able to call the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) shortly, when he can refute any allegations that have been made.
Rev. Ian Paisley : Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Surely it is out of order for any hon. Member to say that someone is a Member of this place by the grace and favour of those who violate the law and engage in murder. That is what has been said. It has been said that my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) is here by the grace and favour of the IRA. Surely that is not in order.
Madam Deputy Speaker : It is my judgment that that has not been said. I interpreted the intervention of the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) to mean that a candidate stood and, therefore, divided the vote, and that as a result various things took place. I hope that all those who are in their places will be called to speak in the debate so that they can express their own points of view on the matter.
Mr. Ross : I think that some light can be shed on the tribal politics of Northern Ireland by saying that not all those who belong to a certain religious or nationalist tribe will vote for the same candidate in an election. That is known by those who represent the Democratic Unionist party, and it has been discovered by many others in the past within the Protestant-Unionist-British tribe. There are divisions, however, which have led to my right hon. and hon. Friends and I sitting on the Opposition side of the Chamber while those who represent the DUP, for example, sit on the Government Benches. I think that everyone appreciates that.
I fought and held the old Londonderry seat on several occasions when there was a clear Catholic--which I assume to be a
nationalist--majority within it. Among those whom I defeated was the leader of the party of the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh, and that took some people by surprise. That happened only because there were many Roman Catholic Unionists within the constituency. My majority was considerable. I believe that it was about 12,500.
Mr. Ross : It is not. Where did the votes come from? The hon. Gentleman has not answered that question. I hope that he will bear it in mind that those who happen to go to the Roman Catholic church on a Sunday morning do not necessarily vote for the SDLP on the following Thursday. The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) enjoys considerable support from that community in his constituency, as we all do. That is why there will never be a united Ireland. The reality is that an overall majority of the population, leaving aside the religious and apparent tribal divisions that we suffer--
Rev. Ian Paisley : Is it not a fact that in Omagh a member of Sinn Fein was put into the chair of the council by the votes of the SDLP? In Magherafelt, however, an SDLP member took an honour from Her Majesty the Queen. I understand that it was an MBE. The other members of the SDLP voted against that person being a member of the party.
Mr. Ross : I thought that those matters were well known in Northern Ireland. I am happy, however, for the hon. Gentleman to broadcast them in the House, perhaps to a wider audience. I hope that they will be taken on board, so that it is understood that things are not quite as simple in Northern Ireland as some folks would have them. The nonsensical process of renewal that we are going through this evening has been taking place year after year and for longer than I have been a Member of this place, and that is longer than many others. It is a reality that effort after effort has been made to buy off the Republican
Column 533population in Ireland--both the constitutional and the violent Republicans--for far too long. I hope that this will be the last time when we go through this bloomin' nonsense, for that is all that it is. I hope that it is the last time that I have to be insulted and frustrated by patronising words from the Secretary of State and his minions. In reality, their words mean that they intend to continue denying me my birthright as a British citizen. The people of Ulster have paid a high enough price. It is about time that they received the goods for which they have been paying in blood and misery. They have asked to be treated fully and permanently as members of this nation and kingdom. That is what they believe they are, and that is why they are British. We believe that we are part of the kingdom. If we are treated as such in all respects, many of the problems with which the Secretary of State and his predecessors have had to contend will vanish.
Mr. Seamus Mallon (Newry and Armagh) : I want to pay a tribute to the Secretary of State and congratulate him on the award that he received last night, I believe. He must have moved quickly after the conference in Belfast to get there on time. I think that he should know that many within the community, from all quarters, appreciate that it is a recognition of the tirelessness with which he has worked in initiating the negotiations and getting them under way. I also want to put on record the fact that substantial efforts have been successfully made to try to improve the lot of the entire community in Northern Ireland. It is seen in various ways. It is seen in the way in which people within the Northern Ireland Office have striven enormously against all the odds--violence at home and propaganda abroad--to bring inward investment to the north of Ireland, to create jobs and, by doing so, to raise the standard of living for us all. As the Secretary of State said, unless everyone in the north of Ireland feels part of society and receives what one expects from society--a decent job and the ability to look after one's family--we shall have difficulties in the relation to the whole question of unrest.
In particular, it would be wrong not to identify the
Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Wiltshire, North (Mr. Needham), who has responsibility for economic development and who seems to spend so much energy and time abroad trying to do just that. It is not just the hon. Gentleman exclusively ; it is something that the Northern Ireland Office is doing as a team and is doing as successfully as possible in the circumstances. How much more successful could that be if we did not have the rancour and violence and the obscenity of the disrespect for human life in the north of Ireland? If that could be done successfully, we could start building rather than have this constant destruction. It is only right to make those points, because they are factual and it is fair to say so. I also want to reply to one of the accusations which was made against our party. I shall not deal with the obvious inaccuracies. Those who know the electoral situation in the north of Ireland will recognise them for exactly what they were, and that was at least an evasion of the facts. I remind again those who believe it because they want to believe it, or simply will not listen no matter how often it is said, that the political life of the Social Democratic and Labour party has no outside influences. It is not beholden to any Church or Church grouping, to any set of
Column 534businesses or capital, to any trade union or to any quasi-political grouping. It has no monkeys on its back, and that includes Sinn Fein and any other section of the community.
The strength of our party, small though it is, has been the fact that it can make its own decisions without looking over its shoulder at anyone else within the community, be it any religious grouping or those involved in unions or the use of capital, and that is a strong position. It is a position that I would recommend to other political parties in the north of Ireland. Every time one has to consult or nod in the direction of groupings which are not political parties, one weakens one's position. I shall leave the matter there, and I shall not enter into the type of events that we have seen so far. We are involved in a serious debate. It is serious because--this is again one of the weaknesses in the argument which has been used so far--if political agreement is achieved, no matter how difficult it is or how long it takes, no matter what opposition is put up to it, as there will be, such debate will strengthen the position of the political process on the island of Ireland.
At the end of the day, if we see through our own prejudices, the IRA campaign is not constitutionally aimed. The issue at stake is the issue between the political process delivering peace and stability on the island of Ireland and those who believe in violence succeeding not in obtaining their objectives but in pursuing their violence ad infinitum. That is where the problem lies with our negotiations. I want to see those negotiations succeed for that reason, and that reason is paramount in our thinking.
There is a second point. We in the community in which we live, I as a person, we in our political party, probably know more about the effects of violence and the effects of the type of activities of the IRA and its fellow travellers than anyone else. Those who hurl abuse in the way that they do should perhaps look at the way in which, over the past 20 years, we have had to stand up against that, not in terms of words or theories but by walking into villages to polling stations with weapons trained upon one and upon the electorate, with messages of intimidation going round saying that those who voted for the SDLP would be dealt with. We had to face that and face it down for 20 years, and that was not easy. That still continues, in its own subtle ways. So when we are talking about the understanding of violence in the north of Ireland, do not rule us out, because we probably have a better understanding of it than most.
It is for that reason, among other reasons, that I want to see the type of political agreement which would allow for a system of justice in the north of Ireland which of itself would not solve the problem but which would remove the peripherals from the problem and let it be seen in its starkness. That is the effort by the Provisional IRA and other paramilitary groups to usurp the right of the people to express their views democratically and to resolve their problems through negotiation, understanding and dialogue, and through peaceful political means.
That is why debate is so important, and that is why we are wasting our time with the type of petty abuse that we have seen and heard so far. That is why negotiations are difficult and that is why, unless we start to understand each other's positions and at least listen to them without the type of mischief that we have heard so far, we will not get to grips with the problem.
Column 535I wish the negotiations well, and I hope that, as we go further down the road, that understanding will grow. But it will not happen quickly. There is no quick fix for the problem. There is no quick way in which we can deal with it. But it is better to take time to get it right than to have a quick fix and again have the past and present failures of the attempts to obtain a political solution.
Mr. William Ross : The hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong, but I thought from his words a moment ago that he was saying that the IRA was simply practising mindless violence and thuggery for the sake of it, and that it did not have a constitutional objective. Surely he cannot believe that, because it is well known that the constitutional objective of the IRA and Sinn Fein is a united Ireland.
Mr. Mallon : I do not believe that, so I did not say it, and I did not say it because I do not believe it. The aim of the IRA is not guaranteed, and it is not a political or constitutional resolution on the island of Ireland. The IRA itself has said that its intention is to grab power in Ireland by the ballot paper and the Armalite, but it cannot form part of the democratic process by forcing its views on people at the point of a gun. That is where the hon. Gentleman misunderstands my remarks.
Neither of the two points that I want to make about direct rule is complimentary. There is something wrong when, after 20 years of direct rule, two blatant examples of injustice are still to be seen in statistics relating to employment and education. I am not placing blame on the present Secretary of State or his Ministers, because direct rule has existed for 20 years. Nor am I placing the blame only on the present Government, because it must be shared by both the parties that have governed Northern Ireland since direct rule was imposed.
There must be something radically wrong when such an imbalance of employment exists not among Protestant or Catholic firms, but in Government Departments, which are not run by those who have the hang-ups or the prejudices that are indigenous to the north of Ireland. Blame cannot be attached to bigoted Protestants or to bigoted Catholics for the situation that I describe. The figures--which come from the Northern Ireland civil service equal opportunities commission--speak for themselves.
At a senior level, the percentage of Catholics working for the Department of Economic Development is 6.7 per cent. For the Department of Agriculture, the figure is 10.2 per cent ; Department of Education, 16.9 per cent. ; Department of the Environment, 8.2 per cent. ; finance and personnel, 23.1 per cent. ; Department of Health and Social Services, 13.9 per cent. ; and for the Northern Ireland Office itself, 14.9 per cent. The average figure is 14.4 per cent. Why has that imbalance not been dealt with after 20 years of direct rule? That is a reasonable question for someone from my perspective to ask, and even for any hon. Member from the Unionist tradition to ask. There must be something wrong with a system that has not allowed such an imbalance to be redressed over 20 years.
Column 536employment in the Northern Ireland civil service, consider the figures that now prevail--which, for the service as a whole, approximate to the balance within the two sides of the community-- and consider the shift that has been occurring over a period, and which has necessarily occasioned recruitment into the service from the bottom, I see that it is necessarily the case that one will not have in the ascending grades a sufficient number of candidates for promotion to produce a percentage in the highest grades that will be comparable to that for the service as a whole. Is the hon. Gentleman recommending drafting in people to those higher grades from outside the service simply in order to accommodate the figures?
Mr. Mallon : I am not suggesting that--nor would I ever do so. That would be absolutely wrong. The Secretary of State makes a valid point that the situation was so bad at the start of direct rule that even today's figures represent an improvement.
I acknowledge that it will take time to redress the imbalance that I described, and agree that the solution should not be contrived. However, I say again that something must be wrong for such an imbalance to develop and to remain the same after 20 years.
The Secretary of State and the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) referred also to the imbalance in the recurrent spending on education in the north of Ireland. I regret having to present these figures in religious terms, but that is the only way of ensuring proper understanding.
I emphasise that these figures relate to recurring expenditure and not to the capital expenditure differential that arises because of the voluntary option. I refer to the expenditure to which every schoolchild is, by the Government's own definition, entitled as of right. Between 1981 and 1986, there was a differential of £32 million between expenditure on schools attended largely by Protestant children and those attended by Catholic children. Why has that situation been allowed to continue willy-nilly, and without even being known about? Why has it continued, to the detriment of people in the north of Ireland?
At a recent employment equality seminar, the Secretary of State said :
"Our aim must be to reach a situation in which there is full equality of opportunity and a fair distribution of jobs across Northern Ireland."
In terms of Government spending on north of Ireland schools, no such equality pertained between 1981 and 1986.
Column 537Mr. Mallon : You are quite correct, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Secretary of State said also :
"Catholics suffer more severely from unemployment, and the unemployment rate of Catholics is more than twice that of Protestants employment and employability lie at the heart of this debate". If the education of Catholic children suffers to the extent of £32 million, will that not produce an educational deficit that will result in the unemployability to which the Secretary of State referred?
Those are harsh words, but I do not know how to speak about either of those two factors without sounding harsh and blunt. I do not mean to cast any aspersions or lay the blame on anyone, but something is wrong and it is time that we found out where that wrong lies and put it right.
The Secretary of State said that an attempt will be made almost immediately to monitor the position and I welcomed that. We have been trying to monitor it. In 1988 and 1989, the leader of my party, the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume), tabled some parliamentary questions asking about such things. He was given some figures for grammar schools but not for primary schools because, in the words of the parliamentary reply, such information would be available only at disproportionate cost. Yet a Government-appointed body, the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights, has unearthed the figures, when hon. Members could not be given them because of the "disproportionate cost", to quote parliamentary replies to my colleague the hon. Member for Foyle in 1988 and in 1989. We should study that, because the matter could have been dealt with much more quickly had it not been for that approach.
Mr. William Ross : On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) has just told the House that he is getting his figures from a Government-sponsored publication. Is it available in the Vote Office, because I feel sure we would all like to be able to study it?
Mr. Mallon : I can assure the hon. Member for Londonderry, East (Mr. Ross) that it is available, and if he wants me to refer to more recent answers to parliamentary questions--January of this year--I am able to do so, but I shall not delay the House any further. There is something radically wrong when, after 20 years of direct rule, those glaring faults are staring us in the face to such an extent. In pursuit of the aims that the Secretary of State mentioned--some of which I have quoted--will every effort be made to identify what is wrong and to deal with it immediately so that those faults will cease to be a problem ? For as long or as short as direct rule continues in the north of Ireland, we can study the situation and give it the same commendation and praise that I have given the Northern Ireland Office for its efforts.
One of the potential benefits of the period of direct rule was that hon. Members who have not got the ideological hang-ups or prejudices that we may have, or indeed the difficulties that many of us could have, could come here with a fresh and clear mind to deal with the problems. When direct rule ended, it would leave us with a clean slate. If we can get those two problems out of the road, the
Column 538slate will have been substantially, although not totally, cleaned and that could be an encouragement to the rest of us to reach agreement in the negotiations that would allow us to proceed with a clean slate.
Rev. William McCrea (Mid-Ulster) : I have listened with care to the debate and I realise that the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) is playing to a wider audience than the few in the House tonight, pretending that he is Mr. Reasonable and acting Mr. Softie. There is an old statement that you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you do not fool all of the people all of the time. People hearing the hon. Gentleman for the first time, through the modern media, may not have heard the old record played before. If the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh could not cry "discrimination" he would have had little disadvantage to speak about. I come from a constituency with a far higher rate of unemployment than that in Newry and Armagh. I come from an area in the west of the Province that has greater disadvantage than the constituency of the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh. Yet I am not charging any Government with deliberate discrimination against anyone or any section of the community ; that was the central theme and essence of what has been said in the past 15 or 20 minutes. I have listened to a number of things in my political career and I have a broad enough back to take it. I know what it is to experience a threat from terrorists just as much as any hon. Member in this House-- perhaps more, as those who know my constituency will agree. I do not come to this House merely with words of threat. Since we last debated this subject, the Secretary of State knows that my family has once again known what it is not merely to experience the threat of terrorism but the slaughter of an innocent young man in his late 20s, gunned down in front of his two little children of four and six. One of those little boys rang his grandmother to call for help saying, "A bad man has shot my daddy." When granny came down it was to see her two grandchildren putting their fingers into the holes where the IRA bullets had gone in, trying to stop the blood flowing from their father's veins. That is the shadow under which I come to the House ; that is the reality of the situation. I need no lectures from anyone about intimidation, threat, violence or the possibility of a gun when people go to the ballot box, much less from the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh.
I remind the House that in this Chamber tonight it was said that I am here because of the grace and favour of Provisional Sinn Fein. I am here in the same way as everyone else is here--through the ballot box and the wish and will of the majority of people in my constituency to send me here to be their elected representative. I have come here in the face of abuse and terrorism without fear or favour.
It is about time that people outside the House, as well as hon. Members, realised what the people in the constituency of Mid-Ulster have to face under direct rule and what we have endured for the past 20 years and much longer. I listened to a gem from the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh. Councillors from his party have consistently voted and elected Sinn Fein into positions of power, including the vice-chair and chair in my constituency. It sounded tremendous to those who were
Column 539listening--if it had any vestige of truth-- when he said, "Our party is not beholden to any church." That is amazing when one considers that when a certain cardinal from a certain church speaks, certain members of a certain party, who are not beholden to any church, will act accordingly.
Then the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh said, "In our party we have no monkeys on our backs." That was a gem because the Social Democratic and Labour party down the years has been happy to ride, not with a monkey on its back, but on the political achievements of the IRA gunmen, which brought the Anglo-Irish Agreement into reality. The former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher), said, "I cannot allow the killings to continue : that is why I signed the agreement."
The Anglo-Irish Agreement was the fruit of murder and destruction. The SDLP has been happy to accept it as a hard-won reward for much labour ; in another place, I believe that the phrase "hard-won wisdom" was used. In my view, the only hard part of the agreement is the harsh reality that it emerged from the end of a gun--as a result of the placing of a bomb and the slaughter of innocent people in the United Kingdom, both here on the mainland and in Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State's speech this evening had three main parts. It dealt with security, the economy and constitutional matters, with special reference to the current talks. The House should remember that, on almost every occasion since I came to the House eight years ago when we have debated major legislation to curb the terrorists and destroy the threat to our Province, SDLP Members have voted against that legislation. Without it, meagre though it is, our security forces would not be able to meet the challenge or face the threat. The hon. Member for Newry and Armagh has sent a good deal of praise across the Chamber to the Conservative Front Bench ; there has been a lot of back- slapping. It may fool some people, but the people in the Province know the history and reputation of the hon. Gentleman's party, which certainly do not merit a lecture on how to safeguard the future of Northern Ireland.
As I said, the first part of the Secretary of State's speech dealt with security. On 19 June, the Minister of State gave some figures about terrorist activity in 1990. They were as follows :
(i) Northumbria Police establishment and civilian strength Year |Police |Civilian staff 31 December |establishment |strength ------------------------------------------------------------ 1986 |3,378 |1,101 1987 |3,453 |1,115 1988 |3,483 |1,116 1989 |3,514 |1,157 1990 |3,552 |1,202 1991 |<1>3,586 |<2>1,226 <1> With effect from 1 October 1991. <2> Strength as at 31 March 1991.
A total of 76 people were killed in 1990. The Minister's answer continued with more statistics :
Change in recorded crime (Northumbria) Year |Recorded |Percentage |Recorded |Percentage |Crime |Percentage |crime<3> |change from |crime<4> |change from |cleared up |change from |previous year |previous year |previous year ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1986 |164,889 |157,665 |63,651 |+4% |+5% |+13% 1987 |172,057 |164,956 |71,875 |-7% |-7% |-6% 1988160,768 |153,108 |67,728 |+13% |+12% |- 1989 |181,629 |171,733 |67,880 |+12% |+11% |+13% 1990 |203,825 |190,248 |76,654 <3> Including all criminal damage. <4> Excluding offences of 'other criminal damage' valued at £20 or less.
--[ Official Report, 19 June 1991 ; Vol. 193, c. 209. ]. Those are alarming statistics : they appear again this morning in our local newspapers. We have a long catalogue of terrorist activities and I assure the House that my constituents, and others in the Province, take no comfort from it. Already this year--and we are only in the middle of June--38 people are dead in Ulster. For 20 years, after each major outbreak of terrorism, we have been promised a review that will look afresh at security. Since the Anglo-Irish Agreement, under direct rule, there have been more and more deaths in the Province. The people of Ulster have continued to endure a nightmare under the shadow of terrorism.
In recent months, my constituency has experienced more fear and intimidation than it has known for 20 long years. If the Secretary of State does not accept that, I suggest that he visits the area and speaks to ordinary people there : he will find them gripped by terror. Castlederg has suffered more than any other village in the United Kingdom. In Cookstown a few weeks ago, the IRA tried to wipe out a housing estate, regardless of the deaths and injuries that might result. One hundred houses were affected ; many will have to be pulled down, and others have been severely damaged.
Buildings can be rebuilt ; that is not the real hurt and heartbreak in the community. In Pomeroy, the IRA tried to slaughter the security forces. They planted a bomb at the police barracks. When a bomb is placed there--a number have been placed there over the years--the police and the Army cordon off the area to ensure that the public do not move into the vicinity. The IRA deliberately planted a second device on that very spot. They care not for person, life or limb : they are murderous scum, and they have no place in any democratic society.
Nevertheless, there is opposition in the House of Commons to the measures that we could take to curb IRA activity. When IRA members are caught in the act and removed, we hear calls for inquiries. We do not hear such calls after the killing of a UDR man or an innocent civilian. The hon. Member for Newry and Armagh is quick to go on television, and take in as much oxygen as he can. He calls for independent inquiries to establish whether minimum force has been used.
Let me give a example of so-called minimum force. Recently, three murderers --one had killed at least 200 people--entered a town in my constituency. Their intention was to murder again--to kill innocent constituents of mine- -but they were intercepted by the SAS. Because the terrorists, not the innocent civilians, were defeated and removed, the cry went up, "Was minimum force used?".
My constituents are sick to the teeth of hearing certain people asking whether minimum force was used when we are talking about the hardest core of terrorists in the United Kingdom, and even further afield. In any event, how could we ensure that minimum force was used? If that question continues to be asked, I suggest that the three
Column 541gentlemen who usually ask it--named Faul, Daly and a certain hon. Member of this House--should do something to find out. On the next occasion when there is definite information in my constituency of a terrorist attack--as there was in Coagh a week or two ago --the RUC should telephone the three of them and ask them to go to the police station. There, they should put on the police or Army uniform and go in the vehicle that is to intercept the terrorists. Let them step out of that vehicle and try, with the minimum force, to arrest the murderers. None of those getting out of the vehicle would be likely to get back in it, for the terrorists have never cared who they slaughter, kill and destroy.
We are in the midst of a cruel war. For over 20 years people in our Province have been slaughtered. My constituents, as I attend one funeral after another, have a right to ask, "When will the Government take the measures--under direct rule because they have the responsibility for security--that are necessary to defeat the terrorists?"
We will never talk terrorism away. The terrorists will not melt in the way that snow melts from the bank of a ditch. We recently got 500 additional troops and I thank the Secretary of State for them, but they are totally inadequate to meet the challenge in my constituency. I could take the right hon. Gentleman to a village in my area where, in recent days, five Protestant families have had to move, some to other parts of the Province, some across the water and some further afield. In that same village, 15 young constituents of mine were visited by the security forces to be told that definite information had been found that the names of all 15 were on an IRA murder list. The very heart of that area--15 young men from one village--was to be wiped out by the IRA.
That is the reality of terrorism, and the grip of it is tighter tonight than it has ever been. While I accept, and am thankful for, the 500 additional troops, let us remember that the Chief Constable asked for-- demanded, even begged for--400 additional police to be put on the roads. I understand that the Army chiefs have also requested additional forces to meet the challenge of terrorism.
Be it in Mid-Ulster or south Belfast--where a policeman aged 26 was murdered a couple of Saturdays ago--or in north Belfast, where the other morning a young man at his work was murdered, or the young soldier who came to east Belfast last night to make his wedding arrangements with his young bride, that is the reality of the situation. The terrorists are not on the run. They have the community on the run.
Under direct rule, the Government have a God-given responsibility to bring back to the whole of the United Kingdom relative peace, stability and prosperity. I do not accept the statement once made in the House that there is an acceptable level of violence. There is no such thing. There is no room in Ulster for terrorists and there is no place for terrorism in the United Kingdom. Any democratic society that allows terrorists to have the run of the community--to tell people when and where to work and live--has been taken over by, and is in the grip of, terrorism.
I am not talking about somewhere far away, such as the Falklands, where we are facing an aggressor. I am speaking about our mainland and our back door, about a part of the United Kingdom for which the Secretary of
Column 542State is responsible, not only under Government but under God. That responsibility involves protecting and ensuring the security of the people of the area.
I stand here without apology, as I have in the past, begging for the lives of my constituents. We are sick of looking at the coffins going down the road. We are sick and broken-hearted as we follow the coffins of young men and women, watching the flower of Ulster being destroyed by a bunch of murderous thugs. Every hon. Member should know the reality of what is happening in a part of Her Majesty's domain.
Rev. Ian Paisley : Does my hon. Friend agree that the tragedy is highlighted when we recall that when a UDR man was murdered and his relatives gathered in the parish church of the village in which he was brought up the coffin could not proceed out of the church--this happened in Holywood parish church yesterday--and the bishop announced that as there was a threat of bombs on the way to the graveyard, the whole procession had to stop? There was then a second threat--coded by the IRA to the police--of a bomb in the graveyard.
That reflects what is happening in Northern Ireland. No matter how many politicians, with all the dedication they may have, sit round a table and hammer out an agreement, people who stoop to such dastardly and sacrilegious acts will not be stopped by political agreements. Does my hon. Friend agree that such people must be put down by the only weaponry that they understand?
Rev. William McCrea : I wholeheartedly agree with my hon. Friend. It is an absolute tragedy that a funeral procession involving a broken-hearted family, a son and husband having been murdered, could not make its way from the church service to the graveyard without a further threat--not only along the road but in the burial ground as well--to disrupt the proceedings.
That proves beyond a shadow of doubt that there can be no place for terrorists in our society. Unfortunately, there have in the past been apologists for such people. Some have been more concerned for the terrorists than for their victims. It is about time that hon. Members in all parts of the House realised that the broken hearts of the terrorists' victims do not heal in a matter of days or in five years or in the length of the sentence given to the terrorist, if he is caught, who committed the murder. To suggest otherwise is an insult to the broken-hearted people in those families. Not one of 23 murders in Castlederg in my constituency has been solved. There are Ulster Defence Regiment graves throughout the graveyard, but not one of the people responsible has been brought to justice. Unfortunately, in other parts of the Province, where murderers are brought to justice, they are treated with kid gloves. They are sentenced and given 50 per cent. remission and return to society, many of them to carry on where they left off.
There is a great hurt in our society. It does not matter how long politicians sit around the table. Politicians will never defeat the terrorist or destroy his terrorism by an agreement. The agreement must be within the confines of the United Kingdom, because Ulster people are British. They are a part of the United Kingdom and have paid for that Britishness and for their heritage in being a part of this illustrious kingdom.
Column 543Terrorism must be defeated. What has been done to try to withdraw support from Sinn Fein has not worked. In two recent by-elections--in my constituency and in Fermanagh and South Tyrone-- the Sinn Fein vote increased. I know that that is not good for the Northern Ireland Office. It is not good for the Anglo-Irish Agreement. But, as an elected representative of Ulster, I am more worried about the lives of my people--I have a right to be concerned--than about statements or statistics that try to prove that the agreement is a big thing and that we shall see the fruits of peace, stability and reconciliation. The second strand of the speech by the Secretary of State was about the economy and the 13.7 per cent. of the work force who are unemployed. Again, my constituency has the second highest unemployment rate in the United Kingdom. I beg the Secretary of State to ensure that the Industrial Development Board and the Local Enterprise Development Unit are more helpful to local firms that want to develop and that they will encourage some of our great young people who are coming up with tremendous ideas. I have proof that, despite all the promises and advertisements on television, young people have been discouraged and have taken their products outside Ulster, some to the south of Ireland and some to the mainland. If the Secretary of State believes that competition lies at the heart of the challenge for 1992, he will stop his Ministers privatising Northern Ireland Electricity purely for reasons of party political dogma. It will change a nationalised industry into a private monopoly and a large price will be paid by domestic and industrial users of electricity in Ulster. I listened carefully through six hours of the Minister's statement in Committee. He said nothing to convince hon. Members, whether Labour Members or Northern Ireland Members, that privatisation of Northern Ireland Electricity was being done in the best interests of the community in Northern Ireland or that it would improve the competitiveness of our industry, which suffers the highest electricity tariffs in the United Kingdom. Once again, I listened to the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh--who is not here at the moment--talk about discrimination. I have requested scrutiny of the fair employment practices in the offices of several Departments in my constituency. There seems to be no urgency in dealing with that matter because it involves discrimination against Protestants. The three people who were recently appointed to chief posts in the Department of Health and Social Services area covering Magherafelt, Cookstown Dungannon and Armagh were Roman Catholics--not one Protestant was appointed. Of nine mental health posts, eight went to Roman Catholics--not one went to a Protestant.
If the Secretary of State wants fair employment, he will ensure that the Minister gives us fair employment in the Government Departments in my constituency. I am all for fair employment. Few people in Ulster have a better record than mine in terms of fair employment. During 18 years of local government in Magherafelt, 14 of them under the control of the SDLP, the only years of fair employment were the four years when I was chairman of the authority. That is what the Fair Employment Agency says. I need no lectures from any hon. Member about believing in fair employment.
Column 544The hon. Member for Newry and Armagh speaks about discrimination. We in the west of the Province know what discrimination is against the Protestant community.
Rev. Ian Paisley : Over the past 18-odd years, the SDLP has had control of four councils. Roman Catholic employment is 75 per cent. in Londonderry, 88 per cent. in Newry and Armagh, 60 per cent. in Down--the area of the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady)--and 60 per cent. in Strabane. The population figures are entirely different. The hon. Member for Newry and Armagh lectures us and the Secretary of State about discrimination, but he does not tell us that 12,000 of the 21,000 people recruited into the higher grades of the civil service in Northern Ireland are Roman Catholics--52 per cent. Those are the figures from the FEA, not the figures that the hon. Gentleman used.
Rev. William McCrea : I wholeheartedly agree with my hon. Friend. I remind the Secretary of State of the statistics in a district such as Magherafelt, where 46 per cent. of the population are Protestant and 54 per cent. are Roman Catholics. In the DHSS, 90 per cent. of employees are Roman Catholics. So much for fair employment. If one plays a record long enough, someone starts to believe it. That is what has happened with the SDLP. In public and private debate--with the Secretary of State, with other Departments and with the world and its cousins it has played the old record : there is blatant discrimination against the Roman Catholic community. I do not and will not defend anyone who discriminates against anyone else on grounds of his religious persuasion or party affiliation. We in the Ulster Democratic Unionist party know exactly what that is. As my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) has said before now, it would be most interesting to find out how many of those appointed by Ministers to new boards will come from our party, how many will come from a party that does not even have the power to get one of its members elected to this place--the Alliance--and how many will come from the Conservative party, which at the moment is a fledgling in Ulster. I am sure that the Secretary of State could find other words to describe the position of his party in the Province. It seems that there is patronage--jobs for the boys. That is something to which my party is totally opposed. We stand wholeheartedly for fairness in employment. The person who is best qualified for the job is the person who should occupy the post, whether one likes that person or not.
Rev. Ian Paisley : Does my hon. Friend agree that that applies to every department? Take the honours list, for example. If one belongs to any party other than the Ulster Democratic Unionist party and has served as lord mayor of Belfast, one is honoured. But if one happens to be of my religion or my party, one gets no honour. Is not it strange that all the other people who serve on boards and the rest will be honoured, but that the people who happen to belong to my religion or to my party will get no honours, although names have been put forward under the procedures? Can my hon. Friend tell me now how many DUP members have ever been nominated to a board by a Minister ? I am not talking about those who have been appointed through councils or housing departments. I am talking about direct appointments to boards.