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David Winnick: Is the hon. Gentleman in effect saying that there have been no gains whatever since the Good Friday agreement of four years ago; it is purely negative, is it, in his view?

Rev. Ian Paisley: Absolutely. The hon. Gentleman should read the report submitted by the Chief Constable, a copy of which I gave to the Prime Minister. That document, which is in the Library, sets out the present records of killings, murders, break-ins and the activity of the IRA. It shows that such violence has increased not by 5 or 10 per cent., but by more than 100 per cent. in some cases. Every day when I turn on my wireless at 7 o'clock in the morning, all I hear is a record of the butchering, rioting, bombing and attacks on old people in their houses all around the city. That is what is happening.

Mr. Gregory Campbell: I thank my hon. Friend for giving way. Pages 46 and 47 of the House of Commons research paper show the increase in violence that has occurred. Any hon. Member is free to look at the document and see that 5,200 people were injured in the five years before the agreement in connection with civil disturbances, while 6,400 have been injured in the five years since. The number of casualties resulting from paramilitary attacks has increased from 1,092 to 1,335.

Rev. Ian Paisley: I recommend the Library research paper to the hon. Member for Walsall, North. I trust that he will read it. The Prime Minister and Secretary of State tell us that things are better, but they are not.

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Certainly, there has never been such ill feeling in areas where we see the ravages of the IRA even on its own co-religionists. Where the IRA rules, no one is allowed to dissent in any way, no matter who they are. If they dissent from it, beatings will take place. We see hideous photographs of people who have been beaten at night and had their eyes pulled and almost gouged out. These things are happening all the time and we need to face up to that.

We need to have the election because the people have to express their will. I do not agree that terrorists would fill any vacuum because of an election. I believe that an election would be the best thing, as people would say, "I will register in the ballot, quietly and in secret, what I think of what is happening in Northern Ireland." Surely, this House should be prepared to listen to that voice. It should not suspend the election and take away the people's right to express their will.

Unionists will not be pushed over and this House needs to learn that. We are asking for nothing but what applies in any other part of this United Kingdom—the freedom to elect our own representatives in a democratic way. I resent our being told that Northern Ireland is entirely different. If that is so, why is not the same thing said about the Irish Republic? Some 10 per cent of its population were Protestants when the border was drawn in the 1920s. How many Protestants are in the south of Ireland today? More than 70 per cent. of the Protestants have been eliminated. Only 2.5 to 3 per cent. of the population are Protestants in the whole of the Irish Republic.

What is happening around the borders? We are told that the agreement is a great thing—

Mark Tami (Alyn and Deeside): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Rev. Ian Paisley: No. I gave way to the hon. Member for Walsall, North because I had attacked what he said about me and I felt that that was my business. He attacked me in a nice, polite way.

David Winnick: We will both survive.

Rev. Ian Paisley: That is right.

What about the agreement? The document should be called "British Ulster Hanged, Drawn and Quartered". All the facts that it contains about life on the border should be studied. The other day, I was on the border, and I saw the turrets that people are busy dismantling. When I said to the police, "If the Army is withdrawn from this area, can you do the policing?", they said, "Certainly not. We will be on little islands and there will be no way out for any of us. We cannot police this area without the help of the Army." People complain about the noise of helicopters, so there is even talk about not using them. Those helicopters carry the midden rubbish to the dumps because it cannot be carried along the roads in those parts of the border. The situation will be opened up without any support or protection for the people of those areas.

David Burnside: The joint declaration specifies that not only will the towers go, but there will be no

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helicopter surveillance, which is the only form of aerial surveillance of areas where terrorist activity remains intact.

Rev. Ian Paisley: Helicopters will only be allowed to fly for training purposes. That is in the Government's own document, and that is what we are being asked to sign up to. There should be no dismantling of security; people should be protected until the IRA and all those who carry arms and destroy, maim and kill are dealt with by the law. When the law rules, when all men are equal under the law and when all men are equally subject to the law, then one can talk about normalisation. There cannot be normalisation while such things are happening every day of every month of every year. That is what this House needs to face up to.

I regret that tonight we are putting our hands to the basic principle of democracy—that is, that people have a right to state the Government they want and who they want to represent them. Hon. Members should remember that this is a democratic House and that they would want their people to have the same right to send representatives to it. I say this to the Government: the sooner we have this election, the better; you will not change the feelings of the people; and if the situation goes on and on as it is, instead of betterment, a worse situation will arise. I pray Almighty God that that will not happen in a country that has taken such a whipping from terrorism and the IRA down these long years of weary murders and awful war.

9.13 pm

Helen Jackson (Sheffield, Hillsborough): I am happy to follow the hon. Member for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley). I disagree with a substantial amount of his speech, but not with the importance that he places on elections. We are indeed being asked to take a serious step, because elections and the establishment of the devolved Assembly in Northern Ireland lie at the heart of the Good Friday agreement, which was supported by the majority of people in Northern Ireland and in Ireland as a whole. As the hon. Gentleman rightly said, elections give legitimacy to the representatives who sit in this House or in the Assembly. The whole of the Good Friday agreement is nothing unless elections to the devolved Assembly can be made to work. It is also part of democracy, if we agree with those elections, that those elected should treat each other in a normal way in the belief that legitimacy applies to each and every person, assuming that they are elected honestly without any kind of fraud.

I believe that the Good Friday agreement was a special document. Last week, I visited an exhibition at the Beaconsfield art gallery, where a sculpture of the Good Friday agreement reached all around the wall. I thought that that made the agreement significant in the same way, one could say, as the Bayeux tapestry made 1066 an important date in our history—I am a mediaeval historian. Another example is the way in which the freedom charter was displayed on posters during the South African elections.

Hon. Members must not underestimate the need for normality in Northern Ireland. It is not like Sheffield; it does not currently have a normal society. Let us

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consider the Stevens inquiry and the revelations in today's papers. There is no such focus in Sheffield, which I represent. However, such events do happen in Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In Sheffield, elected members of a council do not refuse to shake hands. When I served on a council, I could not stand the sight of many of my elected colleagues, but I did not deny their right to be there. I shook hands with them and talked to them properly. In Belfast, the walls in working-class areas glorify armed conflict. Guns are not painted all over walls in working-class areas in Sheffield. Northern Ireland badly needs to restore normality to its society.

David Burnside: Sheffield is a wonderful city. Which elected representatives of political parties there are connected with terrorist or criminal organisations?

Helen Jackson: None to my knowledge, but that is the difference. The Good Friday agreement speaks of bringing normality to an area of the United Kingdom that was dogged by violence and community antagonism, governed by guns and private armies. The negotiations and the vote in the referendum were about that. The vote led the way forward to elections and democracy. We are therefore considering a serious step today. Nobody can totally avoid the blame for the current position.

I want to focus on two matters on which progress must be made in the summer. I agree with colleagues of all parties who believe that we should not contemplate cancellation or indefinite postponement of elections. There is therefore much to do. Two main issues have led to a breakdown of trust to the extent that the Assembly and the Executive cannot be made to work.

It is inexcusable for a political party to refuse to agree to a civil police force for its communities. Paramilitary activity and the rough justice meted out by people who claim to be community leaders in charge of their communities continue. A decision must be made about that. My hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) and the SDLP made such a decision when they supported the new Police Service of Northern Ireland. Would it be accepted if Sinn Fein TDs in the Dail said that they would not accept the authority of the Gardai because they had their own ways of managing in their constituencies? It would not. There also has to be recognition by every party on the Unionist side that when a democratic Assembly is elected again, an established Government will be formed. People will work together, sit down together, vote together and form a Government together. But unless those things happen, the summer will have been wasted.

My hon. Friend the Minister needs to take it on board that, in the discussions that take place, the demoralisation needs to be acknowledged of many Assembly Members who have thrown their time, their careers and their lives into making the Assembly work. They need to have that demoralisation lifted, and I appreciate the measures in the Bill that will do that. Furthermore, discussions should also be held with the smaller parties that have perhaps been left out of the proper working of the Assembly by the two—well, four,

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really—major parties, which have taken the lion's share of the ministerial appointments. Those smaller parties must be allowed to have their voices heard, because in many cases they represent the voice of communities that also feel demoralised that they and their political parties are unable to establish a Government in Northern Ireland that works.

I am very reluctant to agree to the deferral of the elections. I think that it represents a serious step backwards, but I will go along with the Government tonight. They have held discussions with the parties in favour of the agreement and with the Government of the Republic of Ireland to ensure that the steps that need to be taken in the summer will be worked on in such a way that democracy can be restored. I reaffirm my concern, however, that if people say, "Oh well, we will wait until the autumn" and do not face up to the real difficulties that affect the normal political and social life in Northern Ireland, we will be in a difficult position—or an even more difficult position—in the autumn. If the hon. Member for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley) is correct in saying that levels of violence were lower before the agreement, should we go back to direct rule and get rid of the Assembly altogether? That is not what was voted for in the referendums on one of the most important agreements on Northern Ireland ever to be negotiated in this Parliament by any Government.

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