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Mr. Hume: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I did not say that anyone was talking nonsense. I said that, in the public interest, the evidence should be fully published. Who objects to evidence?
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. That is not a matter of order for the Chair. The hon. Gentleman wishes to continue the debate, and there will be other opportunities for that. May I say to the hon. Member for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley) that this is not the occasion for a statement on his part? He should be putting questions on behalf of himself and his party to the Secretary of State. I have allowed some latitude to him because of his position in this matter, but he really must ask questions and not continue with an extended statement.
Rev. Ian Paisley: It seems strange, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as I am the leader of the largest party in Northern Ireland, that we cannot do what we are sent to do. I will make no further comment on that, because I know that your powers are greater than mine at present.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is not trying to tempt me to exemplify the powers of the Chair. I have recognised his position as the leader of the largest party, but it is still not in order for him to make an extended statement at this time. There will be other occasions for that. He should be putting questions to the Secretary of State.
First, the Secretary of State said in his statement that "decisions and responses" are now needed from Sinn Fein-IRA. Will he please tell us what he means by that? There was not one word about anger. The people of Northern Ireland are more than disappointedthey are very angry about what has happened. Furthermore, what are the penalties to which he referred? The only penalties about which I have heard today are against the democrats of Northern Ireland, whether nationalist or Unionist. The hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) was right to make that point. We are being punishedbecause of a bank robbery, all democracy in Northern Ireland is to be brought to an end. I want to press the Secretary of State to tell us what those penalties are.
On the future of the Assembly, surely, as we have suggested to the Secretary of State, elected representatives could be organised to keep their eye on
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direct rule Ministers and to call them to account, as they did in the Assembly. That is a job of work that could be done.
Mr. Murphy: On those last points, we could certainly consider the sort of arrangement about which the hon. Gentleman talked. His party put forward various proposals with regard to a committee structure or corporate body of the Assembly. The Social Democratic and Labour party put forward suggestions with regard to a similar body, but with commissioners. There are ways in which to examine how best to deal with the accountability of me and other Ministers in the House who have responsibility for Northern Ireland.
On penalties and sanctions, the hon. Gentleman also knows that, when an incident occurred last year, we considered a host of different penalties and sanctions, ranging from allowances to other matters. Those will be considered by the Government and the Irish Government together, but the House will also have an opportunity to consider such matters, if it so wishes.
With regard to decisions and responses, those relate entirely to the first point that the hon. Gentleman rightly madewe cannot, to use his words, mix crime and a proper democracy. I hope that I made it clear throughout my statement that the Government will not tolerate that linkage, and that it is not right for that to happen. If he wants a voluntary coalition, however, I repeat that we can only have that if people volunteer to go into it, and it must be across the board. Therefore, there must be other ways. The point is also to end criminality so that we have a wholesome and uncorrupted politics in Northern Ireland.
The hon. Gentleman rightly talks about anger in Northern Ireland about the issue, but the anger is also because of the impact on the process, given all the work done by his party over the months leading up to Christmas, and the work done by all the parties involved in the peace process in Northern Ireland over the last several years. I assure him that no one in the House was more disappointed than me. Off and on, for 10 years, I have also been involved in the process, and the last thing that I wanted was to come to this House and deliver the statement that I have had to give today. I wanted to ensure that we saw progress from Christmas onwards, with an Executive and an Assembly up and running in the next six months, which the people of Northern Ireland wanted. Now we must put our heads together and work out where we go in the months ahead.
Mr. Seamus Mallon (Newry and Armagh) (SDLP):
First, I want to pay tribute to members of both Governments who have worked so assiduously on this mater. That will not prevent me from pointing out that there is a fault line in the negotiation process, which is exemplified by the way in which, for more than seven years, every attempt was made to buy the IRA army council into the political process at the expense of other factorsnot just buying in republicans but others. There is a fault line in any political process when people must be bought into such a process in a place like Northern Ireland. It is an even worse fault line when, added to that, we have secret deals that amount to political patronage, and secret arrangements with paramilitary groups, and when the law itself can be bartered for political reasons, as was attempted in the Republic of Ireland.
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May I ask the Secretary of State one thing? This bartering of the Good Friday agreement has sucked dry the idealism and hope that exists within the community. That idealism, vision and hope is disappearing. As the Secretary of State is a man for whom I have enormous respect, may I ask him to get rid of the fault line in the negotiating process and reinvent integrity, decency and honesty in it, so that once again I, as one who has been involved for many years, can say with pride that I am part of the political process rather than seeing it becoming more and more of a moral quagmire?
Mr. Murphy: Of course, my hon. Friend has been part of that process for many years. Its success, in the years in which we have had success, is largely due to him and others like him. He makes a point about the negotiation process, and perhaps it is time to take on a different type of negotiation. That will result largely from my discussions in the weeks ahead with political parties.
My hon. Friend rightly mentioned the Good Friday agreement, which of course lies at the heart of any negotiations that we have. What struck me as particularly awful about the events of the last few weeks was that they were so much against the principles of that agreement. People constantly talk of acceding to, agreeing to, accepting and implementing the agreement, but nothing could be worse than an act of major criminalitywhich is how we have described it todaythat went against what people voted for when they voted for the agreement in 1998.
David Burnside (South Antrim) (UUP): I wish the Secretary of State and his ministerial team a happy and prosperous new year. We should be optimistic about the future, and not be depressed about recent events. The statement, however, was depressing. We all like the Secretary of State and get on reasonably well with his ministerial team, but the statement was vacuous and empty, with no reference to sanctions or threat. Sinn Fein-IRA are laughing at the British Government again. The Secretary of State knows the facts from his security information. He knows about Bobby Storey, head of intelligence, reporting to the army council. He knows about Adams, McGuinness, Keenan, "Slab" Murphytop of the criminal rich list, with £32 millionGillen and the rest. He knows who carried out the Northern bank robbery. It was the Provisional IRA. It was Bobby StoreyBobby Storey of Stormontgate, Bobby Storey of crime, Bobby Storey of Castlereagh
What is the Secretary of State going to do? What sanctions are there? What strengthened will is going to emanate from the House with regard to facilities in the House, sanctions and fines? Will there be a fine of a couple of thousand pounds, when they have £26.5 million in the bank?
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