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Mr. William Ross: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the whole concept of local agreements is nonsense, because even if agreement were reached between a loyalist organisation and the ordinary Roman Catholics living in the area, it would immediately be seized on by the IRA and a garbled version would come out? The whole thing would be blown out of the water by the IRA. Is not that the lesson that we should absorb from what happened when people have hitherto tried to talk to each other?

Rev. Ian Paisley: There is not a place about which that could be more truly said than Dunloy, in my constituency. In Dunloy is a Presbyterian church where Orangemen have paraded for more than 100 years. Much pressure has been put on it. The present moderator of the Presbyterian church said, "As my people go to church on Sunday morning, they are told by the people in Dunloy, 'We've got the caretaker out of his house and we have it. You now don't have a full-time Minister, and we'll get your church as well.'" After these troubles, they went into the churchyard and desecrated the most prominent grave there, tearing up the moss that covered it and throwing it all around the churchyard. Then they broke all the windows in the area.

Who are these people? As the Member of Parliament for that area, I was very concerned. A friend of mine knew many of the local people in Dunloy. With all our help, he brokered an agreement: that, on 26 November, an Orange service would go through to the church. The decent people of Dunloy said, "Yes, but we have to protest against it." We said, "You have your protest. We'll understand that, but as long as we get through." The people of Dunloy were so impressed by the way in which the Orangemen

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handled the situation--allowing no one to walk in a parade except by invitation, and limiting the numbers--that they withdrew their application and said, "We'll not protest. You can go."

On the Sunday that the protest was to be held, IRA men from Loughguile and from the Mid-Ulster area moved in and told the people who had brokered the agreement with us, "You can't do that. You are going out on the street to stop this, and if you don't, we'll shoot you." They produced a gun and put it to a man's ear, and said, "That is what is going to happen", and it did happen. The police let it happen. They did not have enough power to put the procession through. Now those people tell us that they can do nothing, because they are under threat, which is exactly what the hon. Member for East Londonderry (Mr. Ross) said. That is being repeated all over the place.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) referred to neighbour being set against neighbour. What I have described is what is setting them one against the other. They are intimidated and run into the ground by gunmen. Mr. Adams boasts about that, and the police do not take him away. For three years he has been working to destroy our country and to break the law. People will exploit the situation even more. They are getting everything they want. They want 21 days to organise their rebellion.

The House should know that no notice used to be given for traditional parades. That was not needed, because the police knew that they would take place on a certain day. When that day arrived, the local sergeant would confirm that it would take place as usual and arrangements were made. The House took away that traditional parade agreement. Why did they scrap it? Because of the Anglo-Irish agreement and the new Public Order (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 1997.

We went to prison in protest about this issue, and the House laughed at us. Hon. Members are not laughing tonight about what happened last year. They should have listened to us and not gone ahead with this order. My hon. Friend and I have dealt with Hibernian processions, which go through predominantly Protestant areas. I resent what the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) said about people on the other side who would stop them. No one lays a finger on those Hibernians: they walk their traditional route and they will continue to do so.

Mr. William Ross: Is it not a fact that, in living memory in Northern Ireland, there has not been an attack on any parade of the Ancient Order of Hibernians by the Protestant population?

Rev. Ian Paisley: I know of no place or time in history since the drawing of the border and Northern Ireland remained within the United Kingdom when the Protestant population attacked an AOH parade. That is a traditional parade, but the traditional parade agreement has been thrown out. This order was hailed by the south of Ireland as a great step forward. It is certainly a step forward for the IRA. We are now going further and further into the mess and mire of this whole situation.

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We must draw back, because people will say, "If we cannot go to our church, as we have always walked to our church, the time has come to make a stand." Do not force law-abiding citizens to become lawless. There are plenty of lawless groups in Northern Ireland. Some lawless groups on the Protestant side are being courted by the Government and the Opposition.

When I walk out in the morning and go down the Newtownards road, I see the great big notices put up by the Progressive Unionist party and Ulster Democratic party--the two fringe loyalist groups that are connected with Protestant paramilitaries--which say, "Carson brought in the guns. Paisley says, 'Hand them over'." And I am supposed to sit in quietness with those people, at a table.

That slogan is all over Northern Ireland. Not only did those people write it on the site; they went to a new church that we were building, and wrote it there. It does not hurt me, because everyone knows where I stand on the issue. I have had bullets put through my bedroom window by Protestant paramilitaries, so I know something about it. I am not worried about myself, but I am now seriously worried about the ordinary people of Northern Ireland. They have had enough.

I ask the House to be careful about what it does, and I worry about what Opposition Front Benchers have said. The matter needs careful consideration. We are talking about 21 days to give those in authority time to stop the parade. The longer we give them, the more they will be organised. What are people in Dungannon to do with the Ormeau bridge? Why do they have to bring people from the outlying areas of republicanism into the Ormeau road, and allow them to sleep them over in their houses? The local people in the Ormeau road were not causing the trouble.

It should be remembered that every residents' organisation is led by an IRA man. The IRA controls those organisations, and it can exploit them. I say this to the House: do not go down this road, because it will end in disaster. Hold back, and consider. Why should Northern Ireland be governed, in times of difficulty, by commissions that are set up and present reports? The report that we are discussing has never been properly analysed by the House: I do not think that we have ever had a proper debate to consider it. It has never been submitted to a Committee of the House; it has simply been rammed through.

Father Crilly, Dr. Dunlop and the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford university are not the men to make a decision about something that they have not had to live with. I think that it is time the House considered what it is doing, and had a proper evaluation of where this will lead. The chief constable said that, under the regulations, it would be impossible for him to do his job. It is a policing job, not a job for people who just think, "This is the way to do it." The place must be policed, but it makes the job of a chief constable--or any officer--impossible if, instead of using his professionalism and the opinions that he has after long service and experience, all that is set aside by people who do not know.

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I would be interested tonight--as, I know, would the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie--to see who will be on the committee that will make these decisions. I trust that the House will think again.

1.51 am

Sir John Wheeler: We have had an interesting debate on this modest order. I understand that the House is, as it were, restive for rest, so I shall be as brief as possible.

The hon. Members for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth), for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley) and for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) have made some profound remarks about the character of public order events in Northern Ireland--remarks that the House would do well to heed. I certainly agree with the hon. Member for Belfast, South that the loyalist institutions have within their constitution an obligation not to be triumphalist, to keep the peace and to operate within the rule of law in their activities in Northern Ireland. That needs to be widely understood.

The hon. Member for Mid-Ulster spoke with great passion, because he has suffered what few hon. Members in the present Parliament have suffered, and perhaps few, if any, Members of the Parliament that is to assemble in May are likely to suffer. He and his family have been under machine-gun fire in their home. They know what terrorism is and the evil of it. He is entitled to speak with the fire and determination that he did because of that personal experience. He and others were right to draw attention to the evil of Provisional IRA-Sinn Fein manipulating residents' groups to cause the maximum disruption during what is commonly called the marching season. The House should recognise where the fault lies. It is to be deplored. I thank the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster for his kind references to myself. I am deeply obliged to him for that.

After I had introduced the debate, the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) raised a number of issues. He castigated the Government for not implementing the North commission report in full. The modest and brief debate that we have enjoyed illustrates to him the difficulty of implementing that report in full, a report with profound and, in some respects, radical recommendations, which, if they are to stand a chance of influence and success, must enjoy the support of the democratically elected representatives of the people of Northern Ireland, some of whom have spoken in the debate. I am sure, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman will reflect on the debate and realise that the Government's chosen course of consultation, proper analysis and a determination to introduce in the next Parliament legislation that can be supported, is the wisest course.

The Government will proceed to appoint members of the commission for the narrow purpose of mediation, conciliation and education. It has not been easy to find people willing to serve on that body, but I hope that the Government will be able to announce the chairmanship and membership very shortly.

The hon. Gentleman also referred to the codes of practice and other matters of some detail. All those have yet to be resolved and determined. They all take time. The evidence for the necessity of that time has surely been exposed in this short debate.

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I commend the order to the House.

Question put:--

The House divided: Ayes 59, Noes 6.

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