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2 Dec 2002 : Column 626—continued

Mr. Speaker: That is not a matter for the Chair.

Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is no written statement from the Home Office about a statement made by the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration on several national news broadcasts on Friday evening about a radical shift in Government policy with regard to exceptional leave to remain. Regrettably, no mention was made of this in today's statement, and my concern—apart from the fact that I am mindful, of course, of your rulings on this issue, Mr. Speaker, and of what I regard as a discourtesy to the House—is the great concern now felt by many of my constituents who have been given exceptional leave to remain in this country. As there is no written statement, Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether you have had any information about whether there may be a statement forthcoming on this Xradical shift" in Government policy.

Mr. Speaker: I have had no approach on that matter.

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Opposition Day

[Unallotted Half-Day]

Policing (Northern Ireland)

4.27 pm

Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim): I beg to move,

What I say about IRA terrorism can be applied equally to terrorism committed by so-called loyalists. I have been on the receiving end of the acts of such terrorists for a long time in their publications, and their attacks on property have included my property. My church manse was bombed, bullets were shot through my bedroom window and other attempts have been made on my life, not by the IRA —although it has made attempts on my life—but by loyalists. I want to make it clear, therefore, that although the motion condemns the IRA and does not deal with loyalist terrorism, I apply the same condemnation to those terrorists.

The motion before the House is different. It deals not with terrorists, per se, but with terrorists who are given a place in the government of part of the United Kingdom.

It is indeed vital that the House discuss this matter because IRA-Sinn Fein continue to engage in a cycle of violence. Everyone in the House knows that. Everyone in the House should be seriously concerned about the targeting, training and recruiting business and the complete disregard of all calls for the disbandment of—

Helen Jackson (Sheffield, Hillsborough): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Rev. Ian Paisley: I should like to make a little progress. The Democratic Unionist party initiated the debate, but other Members will be able to speak. If the hon. Lady has put her name down, I am sure that the Chair will call her. I ask her please to give me a little more time so that I can get into my speech.

The notion is that Sinn Fein-IRA are on ceasefire and that the House should congratulate them on that. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, and I utterly deplore the reference in the Government amendment to the

because we could visit some people who certainly would not think that there had been any peaceful strides.

I attended a meeting with the Prime Minister and the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the right hon. Member for Hamilton, North and Bellshill (Dr. Reid), at which the Prime Minister tried to sell me the colossal falsehood that we were at peace in Northern Ireland. Fortunately, I had with me a copy of a certain document. I did not show it to the Prime Minister but I read him some facts from it. I told him that bombings in Northern Ireland over the previous 12 months had

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increased by 80 per cent. I told him that shootings had trebled since the agreement and that unsolved crimes had reached a new high. In Londonderry, the IRA shot a bus driver while he was driving a group of pensioners.

Mr. Stephen McCabe (Birmingham, Hall Green): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I realise that the hon. Gentleman did not show his document to the Prime Minister, but, as he is now quoting extensively from it, will he make it available in the Library?

Rev. Ian Paisley: The Library already has a copy and—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): Order. The point of order was addressed to the Chair. I advise the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. McCabe) that the matter is entirely up to the hon. Member for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley).

Rev. Ian Paisley: If the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. McCabe) can hold on for a while he may find the end of my story quite amusing.

I told the Prime Minister that the IRA beat up a young man in south Armagh, leaving him with injuries that doctors told us were the worst they had seen throughout all the troubles. Violence has increased since the agreement.

Between 1995 and 1998, there were 450 shootings, but between 1999 and 2002 there were 820. Between 1995 and 1998, there were 123 bombings, but between 1999 and 2002 there were 561. The number of bombing devices used between 1995 and 1998 was 156, but between 1999 and 2002 it was 699. The increase in violence has taken a quantum leap.

The former Secretary of State looked at the Prime Minister and told me that he did not think that my figures were correct. I was glad that I had not shown them the document from which I was quoting although I had it with me. I have it with me today. What is the document? The Secretary of State commended it himself: it is the annual report of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. I handed the Secretary of State a copy and told him: XYou are trying to undermine your own figures because they do not suit you."

That was scandalous, yet the motion asks us to say that everything is wonderful. In fact, everything is far from wonderful. I was in the Minster of State's office last Monday, and she handed me three documents. The first was a draft clauses document containing amendments to a future police Bill. She said, XThis is a Government document, this is our thinking." The second document was entitled XText for consideration", and she said, XThis is not a Government document; these are the matters that IRA-Sinn Fein want dealt with, and we are issuing them so that people can have a look at them."

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Jane Kennedy): I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept that I said that it was a Government document, containing suggestions for Government amendments that we might table to a police Bill, subject to conditions that he knows and that we discussed at the time.

Rev. Ian Paisley: There is not much difference between that and what I said. In fact, I said it to the

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Secretary of State and asked a civil servant to confirm that it was what I said. I do not want to misrepresent the Minister one iota. I want to get to the truth of the matter and help the people who have been terrorised in Northern Ireland.

The third document was a police review announcement. It said:

I asked the Minister what that meant, but we could not determine what it meant—she could not tell us. I cannot blame her, because the next day we met her boss, the new Secretary of State, and asked him the same thing: we said, XWill you explain to us ignorant folk from Belfast what this means?", but he could not explain it.

On Wednesday, I went to a still higher authority and said:

The Prime Minister said:

I take it that I am one of the everyones in the House and elsewhere, and that all the law-abiding citizens of Northern Ireland are included—

One would think that that statement was plain enough, but I am afraid that we must again ask the Minister to tell us exactly what she means.

We have had very strong statements from the Prime Minister before—some of them written on a wall during the referendum campaign and some in Hansard—but when it came to it the strong words were forgotten. The Prime said in the House that

We all know that the IRA has threatened violence. We see the IRA committing acts of violence every day. It was put into the Executive, although the Prime Minister gave us the assurance that it would not be and that it would be Xa travesty of democracy"—so it is—to allow those who lead a terrorist organisation to be in government in any part of this country.

Again, in the House, the Prime Minister said:

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If they are inextricably linked, how can they be divided? Those are not my statements; the Prime Minister made them. He told us then that no IRA-Sinn Feiner would be in the Executive. He also went further, for when they got into the Executive he made it clear that they would be put out if they did not keep to their ceasefire, yet when the ceasefires were violated they were not put out.

In fact, what we have is a long document issued by the Government. I accept that it is still a Government document, but that makes it even worse in my opinion because it is to do with concessions and buying off the IRA. The Prime Minister needs to tell us in Northern Ireland what he really means to do. Of course we can hear and see many things, and the way the wind is blowing is interesting.

No one has voiced his views more strongly than the leader of the official Unionist party. The right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) told us recently that those people could not get back into government until the IRA was disbanded, but he evidently changed his mind last night and our morning papers say today that

to get those people back into government. We have another fudge, after many fudges, falsehoods and pledges from the leader of the official Unionist party, so what is going to happen?

If anyone in the House thinks that the IRA will go away, they should disabuse themselves of that notion immediately. It is updating its weapons. Today is a good day to debate the matter, as three of its members are on trial in Colombia. When they were captured, however, we were told that they were not IRA men but tourists, even though they had forged passports. What tourist goes abroad on a forged passport? We were told that one of them did not represent the IRA in Cuba; subsequently, it was discovered that he did. Leading IRA men, including prominent ones, flew out to see them. What were they going to do? Were they going to have their first meeting? No, they were going to greet their brothers in terror and give them their support. A worldwide campaign has now been launched by IRA-Sinn Fein to say that the courts in Colombia cannot give them justice, that the whole thing is rigged and that they will not attend the courts. How like their approach to Northern Ireland—and that is a part of the United Kingdom!

IRA-Sinn Fein sent their top representatives to the FARC-controlled jungles in south America. Everybody knows that. It also rearmed from Russia and Florida. Only the other day, guns of the most modern making, which had never been seen previously, were discovered, and arrests were made of those who had them in their possession. Leading people were telling us, however, that nothing had happened with regard to Florida. Leading political, judicial, security, forensic and loyalist figures are now being targeted using intelligence data files. The House should be aware of the terror of mothers and children when their husbands and fathers leave home in the morning to go to their place of business, because their security files, containing all their details, are in the possession of the IRA. That is a most serious matter. I have every sympathy with the men who have run the prisons of Northern Ireland over a vast

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number of years—some of whose colleagues have been shot, brutally treated and murdered—who do not seem to be getting the support from the Northern Ireland Office that they should be getting at present.

A major line of inquiry has been identified in relation to the break-in at special branch headquarters in Castlereagh. Weapons have been smuggled from Florida for the purpose of upgrading the stockpile. About a dozen individuals have been murdered in Northern Ireland since the signing of the Belfast agreement in April 1998. A role as judge and jury in the community has been adopted consistently in the form of beatings, shootings and other forms of intimidation. Orchestrated, organised violence in east and north Belfast has culminated in the shooting of five Protestants in the east of the city. Most recently, information has been stolen from the Northern Ireland Office and from Stormont; the chief administrator has been charged, he has not been allowed bail, and he is awaiting his trial. That is the track record of IRA-Sinn Fein. Is not that the action of people who are not fit for Government? Is it not also a condemnation of the fact that, at this very moment, the Government are discussing with IRA-Sinn Fein the possibility of putting on to the police boards people who are not elected members but have criminal records and have served prison sentences because of their IRA activities? Think about that: it is happening as I speak.

Another change represents a major concession. An almost semi-parallel police board will meet in north Belfast. It will have different powers from the boards that meet elsewhere in Northern Ireland. Part of Belfast will be under the control of a board that, if it is constituted in the way that is proposed, will be controlled by IRA-Sinn Fein. It will control the policing of west Belfast and part of north Belfast.

We are in a very serious situation. In the days of conflict, we had the police to rely on and could also rely on those who kept their word with regard to what they said the police would do. I know that charges have been made against members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in the same way as charges have been made and proved against members of the British Army, but one does not condemn a whole force because of rotten apples in the barrel.

The constitution of the policing board is another important matter. I was greatly struck by remarks that the Secretary of State made last week. He published an article in The Irish News about the new police proposals. He said that policing would not finally be complete until the day that they—the IRA republicans—include themselves. We are now shut into a policy that means that we will not have full policing until the IRA is included. That notion is obnoxious to the people who have suffered and to the very principles of democracy.

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