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Mr. Andrew Hunter (Basingstoke) rose--

Mr. Maginnis: Francie Molloy is the same person who told us that, if members of the IRA did not get their way, they would go back to doing what they do best. I give way to the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter).

Mr. Hunter: The hon. Gentleman has just made the point I had intended to make.

Mr. Maginnis: It is always good to know that I answer questions before they are asked.

The reality today is that we must consider whether to make a deal, even though its conditions are not properly defined, with the IRA. Have the Government received a total and unequivocal commitment from the IRA that, when this legislation is passed, those nine bodies will be delivered to their families? I do not believe that the Minister can give me an unequivocal assurance on that point.

At present, many things are happening in Northern Ireland. We have a commission--led by Chris Patten, a former Member of the House--to consider the future of policing in Northern Ireland based on normality. His original mandate was based on what policing in Northern Ireland would be if normality were achieved. What has that been changed into? It has been changed into a demand by Sinn Fein-IRA that dominates our press: that the RUC should be disbanded. Everything we have heard from the IRA supports that view, including the ultimate of all statements from Father Desmond Wilson, who said that if one existing member of the RUC was recruited to a new police force, that police force would be unacceptable. What sort of accommodation, realism or concern for society as a whole does that display? None; nothing.

I went to one of the public hearings of the Patten commission and I listened to the families of those who had committed the sort of atrocities that led to the deaths of "The Disappeared", and I heard them tell how their family members had been murdered--people who were killed carrying out a bomb and gun attack on Loughgall police station. I began to wonder whether I lived on the same plane as those people--I probably do not. They wondered why the police, if they knew that Loughgall was to be attacked, had not walked up, tapped the attackers on the shoulder and taken them into custody for their own safety. In effect, that was the view expressed. We all know what happens to our soldiers when they confront terrorists, because so many have died as a result of doing so.

However, I suppose there was some virtue in all that, for during those hearings, the IRA overplayed its hand and revealed the nonsense of its arguments, not prior to the agreement but in its wake, when people were supposed to accommodate one another for the good of society. Society's interests had been discarded within the short

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few months between the signing of the agreement and those public hearings. Sinn Fein-IRA recognised that they had oversold themselves and pleaded for the commission to hear them in private. Speaking on behalf of the Ulster Unionist party, I did not require or request a private hearing, but gave my evidence to the commission in public and made myself available to be questioned by the commissioners in public. Why did Sinn Fein-IRA need those private hearings? That must be carefully considered when Patten finally reports.

Having oversold themselves, did Sinn Fein-IRA go away and rethink their obligation to society--not to Ken Maginnis or the Ulster Unionist party, but to the society they claim to represent and care for? On that subject let me ask, is there any evidence that Sinn Fein-IRA care even for their own tradition? I discovered quite recently that during the troubles, 190 IRA activists had been murdered--not killed carrying out illegal acts, but assassinated. Having heard a great deal about collusion, I expected most of them to have been killed by loyalist paramilitaries. Surprise, surprise, I found that although loyalist paramilitaries were responsible for murdering 26 of them, other IRA members were responsible for murdering 164 of those 190 IRA activists.

Let us look at other figures that are available. Of the 1,543 Roman Catholics killed--I am ashamed that many were killed by people from my tradition who call themselves "loyalists"--381 were killed by republican paramilitaries. The combined total--which comprises the innocent and the guilty--killed by the RUC, the Ulster Defence Regiment, the Royal Irish Regiment and other Regular Army units was 316. In other words, more Roman Catholics were killed by republican paramilitaries than by the Army, the RUC and other legitimate forces combined. As we know, most were killed by the legitimate forces in their actions against terrorists.

Mr. William Ross (East Londonderry): Is my hon. Friend aware that Brendan "Speedy" Fegan, who was shot dead in Newry yesterday, would appear to be another addition to that total? As he lay dying, the alleged drug dealer said, "It was the Provies, it was the Provies."

Mr. Maginnis: My hon. Friend is probably right: very few illegal activities in Newry are not controlled by the Provisional IRA. While I do not want to jump to conclusions, I have no doubt that Mr. Fegan would have known and been able to identify his attackers.

I mention these issues, which are not related directly to the Bill, because of the specific understanding that somehow, those who are connected with militant republicanism can behave normally and can assimilate back into society. Many of us wish that such people were willing to do that and that we could move towards the new millennium in the way in which we have dreamed about for the past three decades. However, I hear nothing but propaganda from Sinn Fein-IRA. Having tried recently to pervert the work of the Patten commission--I am confident that they will not succeed--those same people are now claiming that the RUC and others are in collusion.

I have been associated with the Royal Ulster Constabulary since about 1958, and I know that it is, and has been, in possession of very specific details about

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militant terrorist activists on both sides of the community. If the RUC had colluded even half-effectively with one terrorist group or another, one might expect to have seen the top terrorists removed from society. We would have expected to see many terrorist leaders killed in the past 30 years. However, the figures that I have cited show that that is not so: in fact, few top terrorist leaders have been assassinated by the opposing side. The same is true of loyalist paramilitaries. About 30 per cent. of loyalist activists were killed by republicans and two thirds by their own loyalist paramilitary colleagues.

One case that is receiving a great deal of publicity at the moment is that of a solicitor, Pat Finucane. I have dealt very publicly outside the House with Pat Finucane and the implications of all the activities of the Finucane family. Rather than go over that ground, I want to draw to the attention of the House the fact that during the terrorist period in Northern Ireland, a considerable number of people in the judiciary and the legal profession have been murdered.

Three judges have been killed: Lord Justice Gibson, Judge Rory Conaghan and Judge William Doyle. Three resident magistrates have been attacked: William Staunton and William McBirnie were killed, and Mary Travers was killed while protecting her resident magistrate father, Tom Travers. Rory O'Kelly, a constituent of mine and a Crown prosecutor, was murdered, as was Edgar Graham, who was a friend of mine, a law lecturer and a very active member of my party. Last, but not least, solicitor John Donaldson was killed. I know that Rosemary Nelson was horrifically murdered recently, but I am referring to past murders, the last of which occurred in about 1987.

Those nine murders were carried out by the IRA, yet I have not heard any of that band of professional, middle-class solicitors, who are now highlighting the Finucane case, ask whether there was any collusion when Lord Justice Gibson was killed on the very border while crossing from the Irish Republic into Northern Ireland. I have not heard any cry about whether Superintendents Breen or Buchanan, returning from a conference with the Garda Siochana, were killed as a result of collusion. In neither case am I questioning the integrity of the Garda Siochana--and just as I exercise that discretion, so I believe society must exercise discretion and judgment when people point the finger, in an organised and malicious way, at the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Those matters concern me when we propose to introduce a Bill that is tantamount to, if not technically, an amnesty for those who have committed murder. It is understandable that, in our sympathy for those who have suffered, we seek a solution, but we must do that not emotionally or in isolation, but while considering the interests of society as a whole.

There will be those who will say to me after I have spoken, "Well, you agreed to the release of prisoners." Reluctantly, I did so, but those prisoners have been brought before the courts and convicted, their sentences have been determined and those who are released early will serve the outstanding part of their sentence on licence. Murderers are on licence for the rest of their lives. That is an accommodation. I believe that the Bill is a travesty and it would be wrong of me not to point out those facts to right hon. and hon. Members.

I remember that in that past, we heard a great clamour to get Sinn Fein-IRA back on our television screens. People told us that if only they were back on the air,

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the presenters, the interlocutors and those who produce programmes would put Sinn Fein-IRA to the sword, would test them and would reveal the true nature of terrorism. Where have all the people who said that gone? The terrorists are treated by Ministers in the Northern Ireland Office with greater courtesy than elected Members of Parliament, and the same is true of presenters on television. There is no reality attached to the enormity of the crimes that those terrorists have committed.

There is no real need for the Bill except that Sinn Fein-IRA have the knife into society in Northern Ireland and further afield, and if they can twist it further they will do so. [Interruption.] The Minister will excuse me if I tell him that I would prefer it if he did not mutter his obscenities under his breath. If he wants to intervene, he may do so.

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