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1.14 am

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South): The hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) pleaded for more action to be taken to put an end to this problem. One of the best ways of doing so would be to change the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the implanting of the Maryfield secretariat in Northern Ireland, which is one of the cancers that has been eroding our community as people have interfered at different levels of government in Northern Ireland. Her Majesty's Government must take the final decision, but time and again they have implemented recommendations from Maryfield, and many people in Northern Ireland are aware of the part played by Maryfield in 1995 and 1996.

The order before us stems from the North report; the Labour Front-Bench team has chided the Government for not fully implementing the recommendations in the report. The North committee was asked to examine the issue of parades. It focused on the loyalist parades, especially the Orange parades. It also moved from the concept of parades to comment on the qualifications of an Orangeman and to accuse the Orange Order of being the cause of sectarianism in Northern Ireland.

Although the committee had an Anglican chairman, the report said nothing about the Thirty-Nine Articles; although a committee member was a Presbyterian minister, the report said nothing about the Westminster confession of faith; and although a member was a Roman Catholic priest, the report said nothing about some of the claims of Vatican Council II, even in its modern form, and nothing about the other sectarian claims, which even forbid a person to have communion although they claim to be one with us in other ways. It was strange that the committee went down that road.

On the issue of the number of days' notice, the laughable fact is that it is well known when the Orange parades will be held: every police station has the rotas and times. Only as a result of the introduction of the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 was seven days' notice required. We were told that it was requested by the police, and thereafter we abided by it.

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We managed at that time to get rid of some of the more obnoxious interference in civil liberties, although we did not get it all dealt with at that time. Interestingly, the Liberal spokesman, the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell), visited us to make a plea for civil liberties on prevention of terrorism, but he does not appear to realise that the requirement of seven days' notice interferes with civil liberties.

I am happy to recognise that the Minister's statement earlier showed that the Government are aware that a requirement of 21 days' notice would be unduly restrictive, because it would interfere with many aspects of public life, such as a moment of rejoicing. If a football team won the cup, or if an athlete returned from a foreign sporting event as a champion, there would be a spontaneous welcome, which would be a breach of the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1986. It would be even worse if people had to wait 21 days. The Orange institution has no difficulty with the 21 days from that point of view. Some traditional walks do not go out of their way to provoke people. People can easily remain unprovoked by just staying at home.

I live off the Ormeau road. I cannot see the Ormeau bridge from my house; but some people have such brilliant eyesight that they can see the Ormeau bridge from Dungannon, 40 miles away. They feel provoked, so they come up to prevent loyalists from walking down a main road. Some loyalists take no more than five minutes to walk from the bridge to the Northern Ireland cricket ground--yet that is supposed to amount to provocation.

As for spontaneous protest, last year, in the village of Pomeroy, during the holiday season, a person managed to get an oil tanker supplied with oil to deliver oil around the country. This happened during a boycott of the local non-Orangeman trader who had run an oil business for years. In England, Scotland or Wales, could someone immediately procure an oil lorry and a supply of oil to coincide with a boycott of a local trader? The evidence of that came not from the BBC or Ulster Television but from a prime time programme on the RTE station in the Irish Republic. It all adds up to evidence of plotting to undermine stability.

We question whether the order is needed. It will not solve the problem at all.

When people ask me why I do not drink, I usually say that I am better off without it--I am bad enough without it, too. Someone once asked me, "Don't you enjoy yourself, then?" I said, "I do; and I know I'm enjoying myself when I haven't a headache in the morning."

Will the provision governing alcohol be used for all sorts of public gatherings? We Orangemen have tried in the past to get the police to implement the law. Public houses are not supposed to open before 10 o'clock in the morning, yet they were allowed to trade before that time, with no action taken against them. We also raised the question of special licences being issued on the twelfth, only to be told that nothing could be done but to issue the licences.

I know that the Minister said that the measure would be implemented with sensitivity, but what does that mean? Belfast and other places have in the past experienced "alcohol-free zones". The law is such that a constable can do nothing to a person breaching the law, unless he first warns the person that he or she is in breach of it. The person must then carry on drinking around the next corner

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before another constable can do anything about the situation. That is totally laughable. The police have told us that this sort of legislation is unenforceable.

Legislation is being rushed through the House. I empathise with the idea behind it and recognise the old saying, "When the drink is in, the wit is out." We face the problem of lager louts in England and football hooligans around Belfast or elsewhere, but I question whether the police will be able to enforce such legislation.

I draw attention to the Opposition's cry for more action to be taken and ask them to consider where they are heading with that action. If we have an adjudication body that is also charged with mediation, there is an immediate conflict. Nor has there been a clear perception of the concept of mediation.

For example, last year, people in the Ormeau road were asked whether they would accept me, as the apprentices in Londonderry accepted the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume), to bring them together and mediate. The Rice faction in the Ormeau road said, "We are not of that mind." Fair enough; I am broad-minded, and I accept that they did not like me. However, they are so entrenched in bigotry and opposition to proper democracy that they were not even prepared to recognise the then deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Dr. Macdonald, an SDLP elected representative for that very area.

I am sorry that our colleagues from the SDLP are not here now. We saw the scenes on television. There was a mass invasion from west Belfast to try to occupy the Ormeau road, and the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Dr. Hendron), Dr. Macdonald and others were there trying to mediate. They were ignored and insulted, because the Rice faction, which organised those residents' groups throughout the Province, was not prepared to listen to them.

The North report spoke about the conflict between the loyal orders and the residents' groups. The loyal orders had no conflict with anybody; the residents' groups sought the conflict, trying publicly to discredit the RUC and get television pictures of it allegedly battering those innocent people into the ground.

When I was at a football match in London recently, it was fascinating to see the police presence just to control the crowd. I know of no place--certainly not in the city of Dublin--where an unruly crowd is allowed to dominate. I remember student days there, when workers just protesting on the street for the right to walk were batoned off the street by the Gardai. The RUC has not done that.

Mr. William Ross: Does my hon. Friend agree that, in those confrontations over the past two years, we have seen an attempt by the IRA to determine who will rule the streets, and that, so far, it has been getting away with it on too many occasions?

Rev. Martin Smyth: My hon. Friend is correct. I have no wish to detain the House, except to say that the Government now and after the election must watch that they do not repeat the tragedy and folly of 1968-69, when they did not read the philosophy of Dr. R. Johnson, who was then the education officer of the IRA. They are following the same procedures now. Having failed by terror to intimidate the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland, the IRA is now seeking to destabilise the community through street protests.

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I congratulate the Minister and thank him for his services to Northern Ireland.

I was interested to note that in the earlier debate there was no reference to the drugs scene, other than by the hon. Member for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley) and my hon. Friend the Member for East Londonderry (Mr. Ross). Is not something going wrong in that respect? In my constituency within five days last week two men with paramilitary connections died from overdoses of drugs.

1.30 am

Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim): This is an important debate. It goes to the heart of the situation in Northern Ireland. Those who do not know the situation in our Province and are not acquainted with Irish history will not be aware that from time to time processions have been at the centre of much disorder, both when Ireland was part of the United Kingdom and since the separation of the 26 counties from the United Kingdom.

Various Parliaments and Governments of the United Kingdom have dealt with the problem in the way that we are told that it must be dealt with tonight. One can read Irish history from the time when Ireland was one within the United Kingdom and from the founding of Ulster and one will find people who did not know the place attempting to introduce bans and giving in to unruly elements who decided who shall walk the streets. They all failed totally, and this motion will fail, too.

It is not the House that will suffer, but the ordinary men and women in Northern Ireland and their children. The House has come to a sorry state. When anything is to be done in Northern Ireland, people are called in who do not know what is happening there.

We have the problem of decommissioning. It should never have been a problem. The terrorists should have been told from the very beginning, as the Prime Minister told me, that they must hand in their weaponry. Government and Opposition spokesmen said the same. Even the great Dick Spring said the same. But the Government could not do it, so they called in strangers--the peace envoy nominated by the President of the United States, the general from Canada and the former Prime Minister of Finland--people who knew nothing about Northern Ireland. They produced a report, which the Government were accused of rubbishing. All that was brought out of the report was the principles.

I accept the principles, but I do not accept the report, because it came down on the side of mutuality. I must wait for the day when the IRA army council and the combined loyalist military command--two outlawed organisations--come to an agreement, and their arms will be handed in. What utter folly. When will those two illegal so-called army councils achieve mutuality and agree? That is what I am asked to accept in the talks. It is the policy accepted by the Government. It has been accepted by the Irish Government. It has been accepted as the basis of the talks. No right-thinking person will commit himself to that.

And then we have trouble with parades. What happened? We had a person from the United Kingdom who had never seen a parade in his life and knew nothing about them. We also had a liberal Presbyterian ex-moderator who was on the record as being against parading. We had a Roman Catholic priest who was also on the record as being against it. Those were the people

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who came together to find a solution. So they brought in their solution, which was an attack on people who paraded. The hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) has said that it was a definition of sectarianism. It was an attempt to tar and feather anyone who walked on the roads who happened to be a Protestant and believed in the Williamite revolution settlement, on which the constitution of this country is built. That is what it was all about.

We were told that the answer was the commission. What will happen when the commission meets? What will happen when the full-blown recommendations are made? Will it be advisory? There will be interests that will prove to be at variance. How will it be possible to adjudicate and then mediate? It is not possible to be an adjudicator and a mediator at the same time.

We are told that everything will be fixed up and we shall have the commission. It will meet and say, "No, the Orangemen are not going to walk down that particular road. Although they have walked down it for 180 years, they can no longer do so because it offends certain people."

On the day of the parade people will turn up and the police officer in charge who is there to keep the peace says, "The only way that I can keep the peace is to let this orderly parade through." And he does that. From every throat of every opposing person there will be a cry for the officer's dismissal from the service. Why will that be? The cry will be made because the officer kept the peace.

I want the House to know that the Orangemen walked to Dumcree church and walked back again. They walked that parade because the route was agreed by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, but Oban street in Portadown was closed to the Orangemen.

I happened to be there. The Orangemen were given a solemn undertaking that their one church parade of the year would not be affected. We know that the parade has taken place for 180 years. They were told, "You will go there and come back again." So two years ago they went on the route as usual. They had the return from the church to Portadown agreed. The route was legally set up by the police. But when the Orangemen came out of the church they were told, "The road is blocked. The IRA are in the Garvaghy road estate with their guns and you can't go down."

The police changed their mind and said, "They will never go down that road." I am not an Orangeman, but I was asked to go to Dumcree by the Orangemen. They asked me to talk to the police, which I did. I talked to the assistant chief constable, Blair Wallace. It was in the middle of the night in Belfast. He said, "We will face the Orangemen down." I said, "What about facing down the men with the guns on the Garvaghy road estate?" The law breakers should have been faced down, not those who were keeping the law.

I said to Blair Wallace, "You have been a friend of mine for years but I tell you that you are a fool because the Orangemen will go down that road. They will wait, wait and wait, and eventually they will go down that road." He said, "Never. You can go back to them and say that they will never go down that road. That is it."

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Why did the police not deal with the elements in the Garvaghy road? They did not because of the pressure of the southern Government and the Maryfield secretariat. A storm was stirred up about that, but eventually we went down the road. Let us remember that the last parade was not told that it could not go back down the road. It was open ended, and once the people reached the church the same thing happened. They had eventually to get down the road, because of a problem. People all over the Province said that if that happened it would be the end. The men from Dublin were exhorting the RUC to get stuck in to law-abiding citizens whose only crime was that they were going to a place of worship and wanted to get home.

The House should realise that that cannot be done to the people of Northern Ireland all the time. People have to realise that there must be a democratic solution. What is the use of democracy if the people, through the ballot box, cannot appoint their spokesmen and urge the Government to take the right action? We know what happened. After that, of course, everything was blamed on Drumcree, but Drumcree had nothing to do with it; it was the people in the Garvaghy road. To make out that Drumcree parish church was the centre of some revolution is nonsense. The people who caused the trouble were in the Garvaghy road.

The problem is spreading across the Province. We now have the problem in Drummore, which had never heard of it before. As my colleague pointed out, it is a well-orchestrated IRA plan that they will exploit every time, and there will be serious trouble. Yet we are told that we have to approve the order tonight.

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