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Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): I support the provision of the Secretary of State to impose sanctions on those associated with terror and criminality but regard the penalties as so small in relative terms as to make them irrelevant to those whom they are supposed to hurt. Do we really think that this House is hurting Sinn Fein-IRA by denying them such a miserable number of pounds when they have millions in store and are probably looking for millions more? It is almost laughable.
I was just saying to myself that if the situation in Northern Ireland were happening in any other part of this United Kingdom, these Benches would be filled. Were someone from that part of the United Kingdom saying that terrorists who had broken loose in Lancashire and Yorkshire must be brought into the Government, they would be laughed out of the House. Some of the things that the Alliance party has said now, I said years ago, and I was laughed out of court and told that I was a madman for saying them. In fact, I was told that never would any southern politician agree to the IRA being disbanded. Those things are now being argued over, however, and strong statements have been made not by Protestants or Orangemen or those who, according to some new Members of the House, are divisive, but by the Front Bench of Dail Eireann today. Statements are on record today that the only way this matter can be dealt with is through the disbandment of the IRA. It must go.
If the House does not agree with that, it need not say on another occasion that it will do this, that or the other thing. There are those who are propelling themselves, and trying to compel others, down the road of rebellion and republicanism, and on the loyalist side, too, there have been all types of violence. If we tolerate that, we will have no progress towards peace. We should face up to that. This is not a time for argument but for facing hard facts.
If some of us had said what the Independent Monitoring Commission said, the response would have been "Oh, you are romanticising". However, the activities of the Provisional IRA, as outlined by the IMC, illustrate how far republicans remain from committing themselves to exclusively peaceful and democratic means. The involvement of armed republicans in the Northern Ireland bank raid and other major robberies has reinforced the message that they are in the robbery and stealing business and the business of destroying peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland.
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The previous Secretary of State made a statement earlier this year about the Northern Ireland bank robbery, in which £26.5 million was stolen. He said that
"a highly organised and brutal gang kidnapped the families of two staff from the bank headquarters in Belfast, threatening them with death unless the individuals co-operated in the execution of the largest robbery that ever took place in these islands".[Official Report, 22 February 2005; Vol. 431, c. 170.]
There is the former Secretary of State indicting the IRA for that robbery, and I ask today whether these are the sort of people that the House wants to place in a regional government of the United Kingdom and whether the House wants to carry out a campaign against the democrats who say no to them.
I am not speaking today purely for Protestants. I am speaking for many Roman Catholics and for many people who are neither Protestant nor Roman Catholic but of another religion. They have all come to the same agreement. I received a message during the election from a Roman Catholic priest who said, "Ian, please stand firm and do not move for our people, as many Catholic people living in areas where republicans are in a majority are tormented to death by the activities of Sinn Fein-IRA." He said that anyone living in such an area would be tormented to death, so it is not only the Protestant people who are saying this. It goes across the board.
Never before have so many people of all views and persuasions in Northern Ireland said that all this must end and be finished with once and for all. They are saying that anyone who wants to be in government must do so on the same basis as anyone elseby embracing democracy and only democracy because everything else is out. However, the problem is that the Government have never made it clear that the train will leave the platform without them. I issue a solemn warning to the Government, as I did personally and brutally frankly to the Taoiseach yesterday: if the Taoiseach and Mr. Blair try to make something out of an IRA statement that is not in it and if the statement is not followed with immediate action to prove its veracity, the situation will be even worse because people will say that the Governments are not prepared to stop this and that they are with those men and their activities.
The Independent Monitoring Commission was set up and approved by the Governmentnot by us; we had nothing to do with itand I have to say that it has proved to be upright and honourable. We did not support its setting up. We thought that there were enough international bodies looking into Northern Ireland without having more foreigners coming in. However, the commission has been honourable and honest in facing up to facts. These are the facts and they should not be taken as facts from me, the Democratic Unionists or other loyalists, but as the facts from the IMC.
It is interesting to note that at the end of September the police discovered 10,000 rounds of ammunition suitable for use in assault rifles of a type not previously found in the Province, so there is new weaponry. That may have been only part of a larger consignment, and it demonstrates PIRA's continuing efforts to maintain its preparedness. The IMC said that intelligence it had received led it to believe that PIRA members had been involved in the murder of Robert McCartney, and that the killers had acted on the orders of a local commander.
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Furthermore, they had then sought to obstruct the police investigation, forensically cleansing the scene of the crime and intimidating witnesses.
I welcome the fact that people have been arrested for that. I trust that the truth will be brought out vigorously by the prosecuting officers of the Crown, and that the people who committed the murder will be called to account. I salute the sisters and partner of Mr. McCartney for their bold stand across the world to obtain justice for the one who was killed; but he is only one of hundreds and hundreds.
Members should go with me to see the people who are vegetables and have been forgotten. They should go and see the people who have no legs, or no arms, or cannot see. After the Abercorn bombing, arranged by Gerry Adams when he was in charge of the IRA, a member of my congregation was a vegetable for more than 10 years. I used to visit her regularly. Poor woman. We should consider not only the people who died, but the people who lost any enjoyment of life, and also the people who attend to them with all the tenderness of love, while knowing that those whom they are loving cannot understand that they are loved. I say to the House that we have a responsibility to stand up now.
Dr. William McCrea (South Antrim) (DUP): In the light of the targeting, recruiting, rearming and intelligence gathering, and every other sordid scam and criminal and murderous activity carried out by the Provisional IRA, does my hon. Friend agree that there can be no fudging? The organisation must be totally dismantled.
Rev. Ian Paisley: I entirely agree. I remind my hon. Friend that we sat in Stormont and listened to a debate on taking care of our children. Who spoke? Mr. McGuinness. He lectured us on how we should bring up our children. I was very angry, and I asked the Speaker if I could intervene. At last I had the opportunity. I said, "You, Mr. McGuinness, were the man who sent to the manse of my hon. Friend the Member for South Antrim (Dr. McCrea), on a Sunday evening, gunmen to do what? To murder his children in their beds. The gunmen fired 46 bullets into the bedroom of those children. Thanks to God's mercy, they were not all taken away. Then you have the audacity to say to me 'I will teach you how you should bring up your children'." We have reached a sorry low when all that the House can do to a man like Mr. McGuinness is say "Pay a few thousand pounds, and at the end of the year we will think about you again."
When we think about what PIRA has done, when we think of the killing of Mr. McCartney andthese are, of course, modern deedsthe arson attack on a fuel depot in September, and the fact that PIRA has continued to carry out shootings and assaults, we must surely say that it is time to come to grips with the organisation.
My hon. Friend rightly referred to the courage and bravery of the McCartney sisters after the brutal murder of Robert McCartney. Recently the body of Gareth O'Connor was found after he had been abducted by the IRA. Does my hon. Friend agree that Mr. Adams and Mr. McGuinness should be called on to
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go the second line, and make it clear that information should be provided in connection with that case and hundreds of others, not just in connection with the McCartney case? Should they not be asked to take action against their people if they do not come forward with information on all those cases?
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