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Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim): The events since the Omagh bombing and the increase in paramilitary attacks have shown how Governments react to such atrocities. First there is a general outcry, in which everyone joins, and solemn pledges are made by political leaders that the perpetrators will be hunted down ruthlessly. In the case of Omagh, our Prime Minister and Mr. Ahern responded with so-called draconian legislation, even suggesting that suspected bombers would be gaoled--on the word of a senior police officer alone, if necessary. We have had the Prime Minister's word and it is not enough. We have seen the special powers and they are useless. Those who carried out the Omagh atrocity walk free.

You will remember the recall of Parliament, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will remember the strong words that were spoken and the fact that, in Dail Eireann, the new offence of directing terrorism was introduced, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. When the threat died down and the survivors' suffering no longer reached the front pages, the condemnatory words evaporated, and little has changed.

The laws that were to have the terrorists quaking in their boots have failed. They are laughing. Suspects flout the new laws, which are either ineffective or unused. Paramilitaries are getting out of gaol and some of them are very much behind what is going on. In January, we heard that some of the prisoners released had been charged with new offences.

The Belfast agreement, which brought about their release, promised that the gun would be taken out of Irish politics and that the gunmen would be banished. That has not happened. The Prime Minister acknowledged today that it was not a perfect peace, yet we were told that it would be.

Many other released prisoners are suspected of involvement in the wave of attacks, including arson and intimidation, that has beset Northern Ireland. We have heard a catalogue of what is taking place. In my constituency, a move is afoot to put the gangsterism out of control and demoralise the police. I think that it was the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) who said that the RUC was being hit and that pressure on the Constabulary was encouraging the commission to move.

Some think that the wild men, as they are called, have suddenly come into being; but the wild men of the Republican movement, and of other movements, have not suddenly come into being. They are there today because of the failure of Governments to deal with terrorism and to put it down.

Some of us will remember that, 23 years ago, there was a massacre in Kingsmills. It sparked off one of the greatest revulsions against terrorism that I have seen in the Province. Ten Protestants were gunned down in cold blood when the bus in which they were travelling was stopped by an armed gang. An 11th Protestant, Alan Black, survived, but was maimed for life. The only Roman Catholic on board escaped with his life after the killers told him to flee.

At that time, we were told that steps would be taken to bring those responsible for the atrocity to trial. If the Government of that day had done their duty and gone after those men ruthlessly, we would not be reaping other atrocities, and perhaps we would not even have had the sorrow of Omagh. There are hard men in the republican

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movement who can fly flags of convenience whenever they like. I believe that the IRA leadership condones their actions, and allows them to return to the ranks after a time. There are all sorts of flags of convenience.

It is interesting to note that a police dossier carefully prepared on the Kingsmills massacre has recently come to light. It shows that the police did thorough work, had definite evidence and could, if they had been encouraged, have got men into the courts; but that did not happen. Now we are told by the police officer investigating the Omagh atrocity that he knows the identity of the bombers but he cannot secure a conviction.

The Tullyvallen massacre, another terrible atrocity, was thought to be the work of some group calling itself the South Armagh Republican Action Group; but that, too, was undoubtedly a cover name for a gang of cross-border PIRA terrorists. The fact must be faced that, under the surface, there are those who are ready to act, whose actions will be condoned and who will probably be reincorporated into the republican movement after they have acted.

There is something seriously wrong with any country--and any Government--that permits known killers to walk the streets with impunity while their victims lie in cold graves. The fact that the killers could operate both inside and outside the IRA name, according to political circumstance, is no comfort to the community. It is an indictment of the Government's and the legal system's failure to address the problem.

The documents that I have mentioned reveal that top PIRA players are free to operate as PIRA, or under any other name during times of ceasefire, in the knowledge that they will be accepted back into the PIRA fold when they are required. The futility of those who believe that the IRA ceasefire is foundation enough on which to build the peace process stands exposed.

According to the dossier, Eugene Reavey, a well-known republican,

and transported Malachy McParland to the site. It says that Brendan Ferris of Drumcraw was seen to be diverting traffic away from the Kingsmills crossroads before the tragedy took place. It says:

    "Ferris is sourced as being seen in the area of the massacre shortly before it took place."

The dossier says:

    "The same terrorists are involved in these incidents"

under a cover name for a gang of cross-border PIRA terrorists. It says that some of those people are

    "implicated in the Drummacravall shooting, the murder of CPL. Frazer, and possibly the murder of McNeice and Gibson."

It refers to Michael Thomas Brannigan,

    "formerly of McKinley Park Tullyvallen. He has been reported several times for his involvement in explosions and shootings."

The dossier says that on 31 December 1975,

    "at Road House",

near Jonesborough,

    "14 PIRA men were holding a meeting--Michael McKevitt, Tony Magill, Brian Smith and 11 others were there."

Those are well-known PIRA men. It says that the Kingsmills ambush was

    "carried out by some of the top PIRA . . . Brian Smith, Arnold White, Brian Hearty, Michael Brannigan, Tony Magill."

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    All that information is authenticated in the police document, which also names T. G. McVerry, Joe McSharry, Michael O'Hare, Jim Feehan, the Markey brothers, Peter McCann and the Loughran brothers as having good knowledge of what took place on that dreadful day.

The dossier says that Aiden McKeown of Whitecross and F. McIlhaw of Camlough were there as witnesses and that a blue van containing the PIRA terrorists was driven by Michael Coburn of Blackwatertown as part of the ambush and that another Ford Cortina was driven by F. Cullen. All those facts were set out, yet nothing was done, and the men walk free.

The problem with the Government's strategy is that only a knave and a fool would believe that a few places in government handed to Sinn Fein-IRA will secure for us a long-term peace. It will do nothing of the kind. To put Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness into government is not the way to get peace. It is a way to give them even greater force to carry out their objective--to destroy Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom.

Sooner or later, the IRA-Sinn Fein movement will want its appetite thoroughly quenched by further concessions. None of this will secure peace, stability or reconciliation. There is no prospect whatever of securing the disarmament of weapons, or the break-up of the paramilitaries.

Theodore Roosevelt said in one of his addresses:

In Northern Ireland today, we are in danger of being victims of surrendering righteousness, justice and truth to a process that only promises a peace that it will fail to deliver, as it has failed up to this date.

6.11 pm

Mr. Martin Salter (Reading, West): I rise to speak as a Member of this House, a member of the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee and a supporter of, and campaigner for, the Good Friday agreement. It is a shame that the modernisation process of this House has not advanced sufficiently to allow us to have time to debate on the Floor of the House some of the excellent reports that are produced by all Select Committees. I look forward to that day.

If hon. Members were to read the report on the RUC by the Select Committee, under the chairmanship of the right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke), they would have a better understanding of the linkage between the policing problems in a acutely divided society--or perhaps more accurately, in sections of an acutely divided society--and what is euphemistically called summary justice. I prefer to call it criminal assault, as would all hon. Members.

Just so that there is no misunderstanding, I want to state clearly that I carry no flag for either republicanism or unionism. I am a socialist--we are still allowed to be socialists in the Labour party--and my comrades and I often take a cynical view of politicians who wrap themselves in national flags. It is often a substitute for coherent political analysis and argument. As the right

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hon. Member for Bracknell (Mr. MacKay) pointed out, the poor bloody infantry are often sold down the river when flags become a substitute for political analysis.

One cannot ignore the constitutional question, but I long for the day when, in Northern Ireland--and perhaps throughout the island of Ireland--we can discuss politics that transcend the constitutional questions. I hope that we can talk about schools, hospitals and jobs--the bread and butter of politics. I hope that we can discuss the tension between left and right, and arguments in favour of individualism or collectivism. I long for a kind of politics that defines people by what they are and by what they believe in, rather than by what they are not.

The Good Friday agreement has given us the best opportunity of securing peace in Northern Ireland for 30 years or more. It involved taking risks and courageous decisions by Members of all parties, in this Chamber and over the water. We are talking about the establishmentof an equality commission, cross-border bodies, the Assembly and a policing commission. There are also vexed questions, such as decommissioning and prisoner releases. The agreement is the best hope that we have, and it received overwhelming public endorsement from 72 per cent. of the people in Northern Ireland.

Now is not a time for backsliding. If the British Government cannot deliver their obligations within the agreement, who can? What alternative is there to the Good Friday agreement? History shows us that, when politics and politicians fail--we in this place have often failed the island of Ireland--violence fills the space, and with political violence comes gangsterism. All those aspects bear the hallmark of a dysfunctional society, but only in elements of the north of Ireland. I will return to that point later.

The right hon. Member for Bracknell was right to say that, in Twinbrook, Poleglass, Tiger's Bay or Rathcoole, we are not dealing with the politics of Stow-on-the-Wold or Chipping Norton. An English village green mentality will not do: we must lift our eyes higher. Paramilitary assaults and gangsterism can flourish only when there is a breakdown in the fabric of society--whether engineered or otherwise.

I commend the report on the RUC to the House. It is a valuable contribution towards resolving the problems of policing in Northern Ireland and the problems of no-go areas for the RUC that create the conditions which allow the thugs to operate. It is a matter of deep regret that there is less than wholehearted support for the RUC in many of the working class and inner-city areas of Londonderry- Derry or Belfast, and that is particularly prevalent among the nationalist communities.

The point is acknowledged in the Good Friday agreement--the vast majority signed up to it--which states:

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The Select Committee report highlighted the deep imbalance in the composition of the RUC, with 93 per cent. from the Protestant tradition and only 7 per cent. from the Catholic tradition. The report concluded that there were many reasons for that, including deliberate intimidation of members of the Catholic community who wished to join the Northern Ireland police service or the RUC. An RUC survey, which was appended as evidence, said that 63 per cent. of Roman Catholics

    "have been subjected to religious/political harassment within the RUC during their career . . . These levels could be higher as others who had experienced harassment did not reply".

The point I am making is that we cannot discuss the issue of criminal or paramilitary assaults in isolation.

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