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11.49 pm

Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim): First, I offer the Minister of State, the right hon. Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler), the good wishes of my colleagues and myself as he retires from the House. It is one thing to resign one's seat; it is another to fight and lose; but it is a far worse thing when the boundary commission destroys one's seat and takes it away. I do not know whether in his mind there is a feeling that it is some sort of conspiracy to get rid of him altogether from the House, but we wish him well and I am sure that the people of Northern Ireland would join us in that.

The Government and the security forces will ignore at their peril the warning contained in John Rowe's report on the annual review of the Emergency Provisions Act. On page seven, he says that, since the end of the IRA ceasefire,

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    There have been deaths caused by explosion, firearm attacks and assaults. Indeed, within a few days before the writing of this, a British soldier was killed by a sniper's bullet at Bessbrook.

    There are persistent serious attacks on the security forces. There is the regular movement and preparation of firearms and munitions; and searches reveal such things. Robberies are carried out for the purpose of funding terrorist organisations. In preparation for terrorist attacks like these, ordinary dwellinghouses are taken over by terrorists, who intimate the householders.

    Terrorist organisations maintain their structure and influence. There is intimidation of local communities and businesses, and there is overwhelming intimidation of people who would otherwise be witnesses in a court of law. Paramilitary 'punishment' assaults take place regularly."

That is a solemn comment on what is happening in Northern Ireland at this very moment.

In the past fortnight, our Province has tasted more of the IRA's unremitting evil. On Friday, a terrorist bomb seriously injured soldiers and police personnel in east Belfast. Seven days before, soldiers to the west of the city escaped another Provisional IRA bomb. On Friday, a Roman Catholic man was shot dead in his home. Only by the mercy of God have many other attempts on the lives of soldiers and civilians failed to produce the number of casualties the IRA has planned for our Province.

There are some credulous people who publicly suggest that those bombing failures are, in fact, planned failures and that the IRA is in some way planning to miss its targets in a phoney war to keep its more militant members happy. I have never listened to such nonsense being spoken about the ruthless and murderous intent of the IRA. Anyone who believes that the IRA is not intent on mass destruction should take a few minutes to go to the spot in Bessbrook that marks the place where young Stephen Restorick met his death--brutally murdered by the IRA on Ulster's frontier with the Irish Republic.

Many more soldiers, police officers and civilians will be sacrificed in a war with terrorism that should have been won years ago. John Rowe's firm conclusion is that the EPA is still required on the statute book, but I urge the Government--whatever Government are in power--to take the next vital step and start enforcing those measures, so that they have a greater effect against the terrorist.

I welcome the success that the security services have had. I notice that several terrorist suspects have been brought to the courts on serious charges, resulting from arrests in west Belfast last week; I welcome that. I also welcome the fact that in certain areas the IRA has been put under pressure and hunted down. However, I believe that its members must be targeted for round-the-clock surveillance and they must be caught and put behind bars for a long time. These people will not be reformed. They are murderers and intend to murder, and they must be punished as such.

I join others in the House in paying tribute to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, to the Royal Ulster Constabulary Reserve, to the members of Her Majesty's forces and to all who serve the community to give us protection. I also pay a tribute to people who are often forgotten--the dear mother who, every morning, says goodbye to her husband and lover, the father of her children, not knowing what will happen during the day. Many members of my church serve in the security forces and I know how mothers feel, how wives feel, and especially how children feel when their Dad goes out in answer to the call of duty. Those are the really brave people in Northern Ireland, whose voice is seldom heard, who soldier on from day to day. I lay a wreath of tribute to them tonight.

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The Government have embarked on a course that I feel is a tragedy: they believe that they can woo the men of violence. I think they will live to regret it. Already, the IRA has made fools of the British and Irish Governments and of the American Government. I spoke to Bill Clinton when he was in Belfast. He thought that he had the IRA converted and he thought, because Gerry Adams had shaken his hand on the Falls road and he had received such a good reception at the city hall, that it was all settled and he would go home as another saint. Of course, the nationalists would have protested at having a St. Bill or a St. William; that would not have been in keeping with their vocabulary.

I said to Bill Clinton, "You would not bring the murderers from Oklahoma to the White House. You would not shake hands with them. You would not say, 'Keep your guns.' You would not say, 'There is a place for you in government.'" Says I, "What do you think of me? You've said you want to know how an Ulsterman ticks. How I tick is the way you would tick. You would kick me out of this room if I suggested such things. Well, I feel like kicking you out of the room when you shake hands with Gerry Adams, his hands stained with the blood of five of my European constituents who lost their lives in the Shankhill road."

The IRA has played one phoney ceasefire on the Government and would like to do so again. I trust that no British Government will be fooled again, because all the IRA wants is to attain its goal. Let not the people of the Irish Republic think that members of the IRA are their friends, for what they would do in Northern Ireland they will do in the south of Ireland to get their way.

The IRA campaign is tragically for real. The IRA is not interested in peace; it is interested only in total victory for itself. A Government who do not realise that to be the case will feel it their duty to protect the citizens of this kingdom. The attendant facets of terrorism continue with unrelenting accuracy. They are targeting for murder, paramilitary beatings, money laundering, racketeering and all manner of criminal activity, including the drug business, destroying youth and children.

Any society that has been threatened by the level of criminal violence witnessed in Ulster during the past three decades must protect itself in the most meaningful way that it can.

A great deal has been done to alleviate the position of those who have been charged with terrorist offences. I know that conditions, for instance, in the Castlereagh holding centre are not great; but I know worse conditions in which our soldier boys and police men are serving tonight. I have seen how some of them do not even have their own beds. They get out of bed and another man gets into it. I think we should get our priorities right: we should first look after the men who are doing the job on the ground for us.

Anti-terrorist legislation is vital. All too often it is misinterpreted as anti-civil liberties. The fact is that it is in place to uphold our civil liberties--the liberties of the peaceful majority against the murderous evil of terrorism. I want the powers that we have to be effectively used. Some time ago a television documentary programme carried out an investigation into the activities of Martin McGuinness. He is going to be a "respectable" candidate at the election, standing against my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea).

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After the documentary's revelations, I called for McGuinness's arrest; so did many other hon. Members. Was he ever questioned for directing terrorism? Was he ever taken to a police station or to Castlereagh? It would not suit the Government to take a leading republican such as Mr. McGuinness. There would be an outcry. Indeed, there was a outcry recently when bail was not granted to a prisoner in this country. I heard a Member of the European Parliament from the south of Ireland tell Europe that she, the prisoner, was being tortured in a London gaol!

We need to be tough on terrorists, whichever side of the fence they come from. The Government must be more creative in pursuit of republican terrorism--and all terrorism. They should use the measures at their disposal instead of just threatening to use them. What is the use of the Act if it is not used? It just becomes an annual farce, not an annual renewal.

12.2 am

Mr. William Ross (East Londonderry): I echo the regret expressed by others that the Minister of State, the right hon. Member for Westminster, North(Sir J. Wheeler), is having, perforce, to leave the House. It is an unfortunate fact that before someone can come here, he must have a constituency; in that constituency he has to get folk to vote for him; and the right hon. Gentleman managed both things--but just as he was getting settled in, finding a useful job to do in Northern Ireland, along came the boundary commission and swept his constituency away.

The very opposite applies in Northern Ireland, of course. At the behest of the Dublin authorities, people run around changing the boundaries to ensure that some Members of this House who rarely attend can remain in it.

Many of us have come to know and respect the right hon. Gentleman. We regret his leaving, and the fact that other constituencies did not have the good wit to take him aboard. He would have been an asset in any new Conservative Government responsible for Northern Ireland. If the Conservatives are elected again, they will face a certain difficulty in the Northern Ireland Office--most of its occupants seem to be going, going or gone.

My eye, like that of the hon. Member for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley), was caught by chapter 3 of Mr. Rowe's report. I shall not weary the House by reading out what the hon. Gentleman has already read out; but I was surprised to see Mr. Rowe talk about dwellings being taken over by terrorists who intimidate the householders without going on to point out that cars were clearly stolen to order by the same terrorists. Sometimes, cars turn up with false number plates. They are usually the same colour and often the same make as cars that are sitting 20, 30 or 50 miles away. The idea that the attacks mounted by the IRA are put up on the spur of the moment is blown out of the window by that fact alone.

We also have the statement at the bottom of page 7 that

When the Minister opened the debate, he drew attention to the Diplock courts. I am surprised that Mr. Rowe did not mention that one of the reasons why we have Diplock

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courts is that the IRA would not only intimidate witnesses; it would murder jurors who dared to find IRA members guilty. People who think that members of the jury could hide away in a society as small as Northern Ireland are wrong: they could not. While I believe that many people would serve honestly in juries, others simply would not be willing to do so, because of the fear that would be caused to them and the dangers to their families while they were doing that work.

In that chapter, we see clear hints of the methods that the terrorist organisations use. But there is more to it than that. They not only use those methods; they take care to terrorise first the Roman Catholic population. If some of them are prepared to stand up against them, they are eliminated or intimidated into silence and acquiesence with the IRA and its activities. Once they have finished with the Roman Catholic population and had it silenced or moved out, they attack the Protestant and Unionist population.

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