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Rev. Ian Paisley: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Ross: Will the hon. Gentleman wait a moment?

The terrorist organisations carry out attacks on Protestant and Unionist property for two reasons: first, to create a Republican ghetto, in which they are left in complete control; and, secondly, to raise the temperature. We had two such incidents last night: one in Bellaghy, which the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) knows well, where an Orange hall was burnt; and a second in Clough, where another Orange hall was burnt. There has not been too much of that during the past few months, but it is now on the up, to ensure that the temperature rises.

Rev. Ian Paisley: May I just mention that that was clearly seen in the murder of young Stephen Restorick? The woman who was beside him when he was shot has come under so much threat that when a memorial service was held in Bessbrook, the young boy's mother and father could not invite her, as she would be under more threat. One can have no stronger threat than that: people being intimidated when they go to a memorial service for a person whom the IRA has murdered.

Mr. Ross: The hon. Gentleman's remarks will no doubt be heard and, I hope, absorbed by the few people in the House to hear them. I have other personal knowledge of the intimidation that has been practised on Roman Catholics.

The horror is that, for the past 25 years, the Northern Ireland Office has treated IRA-Sinn Fein as if it was simply another political pressure group that will at some time reach a compromise deal. The hon. Member for North-East Derbyshire (Mr. Barnes), who has sadly left the Chamber, went down the same foolish path as he often goes down, when he insinuated that there is an economic and social solution. The same concept breaks through the surface periodically whenever people talk about doves and hawks in the IRA. I have always believed that those people are all hawks. I have never believed the soft words and crocodile tears that we get from people such as Mr. Adams. Those people are the best of actors; they would all have been worthy of an Oscar, had they gone into films. They are not in films, however; they are in

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murder. That is what they are about. They use every concession as a stepping stone. They do not look upon a concession given to them as a way of edging towards an agreement. They look upon those who give them concessions as bloody fools; then they seize the concession and say, "What's next?" They immediately stop talking about what they have been given--that fades into that past--and they move on to their next demand.

Reference has been made to the events of last summer. We should compare that with what has emerged over the months since, especially in the Prime Time TV programme, in which it was revealed that the entire confrontation on the streets of Northern Ireland had been planned by the IRA for three years. It did not drop out of the blue. It was not genuine protest by residents. It had been planned for three years, in the words of Mr. Adams himself. He subsequently complained, because the world saw what he said.

There has been much talk about processions in Northern Ireland. It is surprisingly difficult to get proper figures as to what sort of processions they are. The police list them as loyalist, republican and other. I can think of many different organisations in the broad unionist community, some of which might describe themselves as loyalist, but others would not. I can also think of organisations that might not be too happy to be labelled republican because of the connotations that that term has acquired in Northern Ireland over the years.

There was a parade through my local village of Dungiven on Monday--a perfectly peaceful parade. I am not sure whether those people would each or all describe themselves as republicans. They have had their own troubles with Sinn Fein, IRA and their fellow travellers down the years. I hope that when the police compile statistics in future, they will be rather more precise, so that we can see who is marching, where they are marching and what it is all about.

I also hope that the House and hon. Members on the two Front Benches will learn the simple fact that IRA-Sinn Fein already has its targets chosen for street confrontation in 1997.

The Minister is right. The IRA has not gone away. It never went away. It simply threw a fairly thin smokescreen round itself. Some people were foolish enough to believe that, but we on this Bench were never among those who believed what the IRA said. We have lived among IRA members, we know them and we have had to put up with their horrors, in the present case for nearly 30 years. Some of us in the B Specials, such as myself, in the 1956-61 campaign went out and fought them in the roads, controlled the roads and beat them. I believe that they could be beaten again.

The campaign has been running so long and its roots have now run so deep that there is no easy answer. The first bitter lesson that hon. Members on the two Front Benches and the Northern Ireland Office as an official body must learn is that the IRA is constantly intent on trouble. It has no interest in peace. The reason for its existence is to cause trouble, to create constitutional change in Northern Ireland's position in the United Kingdom. So many people for so long have ignored that simple fact.

I believe that in the coming year, whatever Government are in power, whoever the Ministers are and whoever the Chief Constable is in Northern Ireland, they can do

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nothing more than select the path that diminishes the possibility of violence and keeps it containable. They will not achieve that by doing what the police did last year.

The legislation is necessary. As the Americans found out when dealing with the Mafia and its drugs and thuggery, normal law is not enough in some instances. It is not enough when one is dealing with a terrorist organisation of the type that we face in Northern Ireland. It is not enough to bring peace. The extra muscle embodied in the legislation is needed.

The IRA will not sit down peacefully at any table to discuss the future of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom. It is not interested in peace. It is interested, as has been said, in victory. It must be convinced, and it is not yet convinced, that it will not be victorious. It must be brought to the conclusion that it will not succeed. If that happens, it will vanish, as it has vanished before. Its numbers will diminish, as will its power, and we shall have peace again. That will not come about while we have the nonsense that so often fills the air in Northern Ireland and across the Chamber.

12.14 am

Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East): The Minister of State, who introduced the debate, has attracted expressions of good will from both sides of the House, and I associate myself with them. Those of us who have not been Members for Northern Ireland cannot know and understand how different Members' responsibilities are there. Perhaps more compellingly, those of us who have not been Ministers in the Northern Ireland Office almost certainly cannot appreciate the particular burdens, obligations and responsibilities that service in that office undoubtedly creates. I express my good will to the Minister of State and the Secretary of State, who was in the Chamber only a short while ago. Both the right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. and learned Gentleman have served in the Northern Ireland Office with great distinction and great dignity.

It seems that there will not be a Division on the order. If there had been a Division, in accordance with the practice of my right hon. and hon. Friends for many years, I should have advised them to vote for the order. I and they would not do so with great enthusiasm, but rather because I regard the order as a regrettable necessity. I would vote for the order with considerable reservations because I profoundly believe that the rights, protections and civil liberties of all United Kingdom citizens should be the same wherever they live, and that only in the most unusual circumstances can a departure from those principles be justified.

On the evidence that we have heard so far, some of it rather chilling, and on the basis of our own knowledge, we are entitled to conclude that the circumstances still obtaining in Northern Ireland justify once again the renewal of the order. Those circumstances justify powers that in other circumstances would undoubtedly be regarded as draconian. These powers should not be maintained for an instant longer than is necessary. They should be grudgingly tolerated. We in this place, and our successors, should work with all the power available to us to withdraw them at the earliest possible date. They represent a serious incursion into the rights of the citizens of the United Kingdom, which they are entitled to expect wherever they live.

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Why is it that the powers continue to be justified? That is the position only because it appears that the cancer of terrorism lies still at the heart of life in Northern Ireland. The powers contained in the order will not eliminate that cancer; at the very best they may contain it. Unless and until a political settlement that commands the support of the entire community of Northern Ireland is achieved, we are likely to face the sort of terrorist activity that so affects our judgment of these issues.

Before us is an issue to which we shall clearly return--those of us who are here--in the next Parliament. I understand that new primary legislation will be required. I express the hope that that legislation will not be treated simply as a routine repeat of the primary legislation that gives rise to the order that we are discussing. When that legislation is considered, it will be regarded with public confidence only if it is appropriate to the circumstances of the time.

For the moment, the order should command our support. Indeed, it would be most curious if at this stage of the Parliament the House were to reject it for any reason. That would be akin to Alice in Wonderland. I divine from the speeches so far that that is not likely to happen, but the fact that we have to deal with this each year reminds us that what we are doing is of great significance, and it is something that will have quite startling and significant consequences for the civil rights of a large number of members of the United Kingdom. We should never do it lightly, but in the circumstances that prevail, I believe that we are compelled to continue to renew the provisions of the order.


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