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The Bill is fundamentally flawed. It is an attack on some of the most basic elements of justice and yet again demonstrates that the Government are prepared to enthrone expediency and dethrone principle. That is what is happening in the House today. I never thought that I would be a Member of the British House of Commons discussing such a Bill from any Government.
Recently, the whole of the United Kingdom was talking about the 90-day amendment, which was not accepted by the House, yet while Members who voted against the amendment were being impaled because they were soft on terrorism, the Government were issuing a Bill that characteristically is a complete sell-out of the British justice system. If the Bill goes through, we shall set up two systems of justice: one on which there is the light of democracy, liberty and law; while the other is a court that has on it the fingermarks of the IRA.
The Bill has been drawn up to give the IRA what it wanted. How happy I am that I took no part in all the conferences that have been described. The more that I
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am told of those conferences, the more I say, "Thank God, I was not there," but some today who criticised us for not going to those conferences have indicted some of the talks that took place. When hon. Members look at it, they will remember that the people of Northern Ireland were being deceived. Indeed, the Prime Minister came to Northern Ireland and put up on the wallhe became a graffiti writerall the good things that would come from the Anglo-Irish agreement, but he did not tell us the things that the people who sat around the table knew, and those things have been declared today.
I have heard many criticisms of those who did not go with the Anglo-Irish agreement, but today the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland do not go with the agreement. The Government never told them that they could have another opportunity to express their wishes. Oh no, everything was done to proceed along a path that the people did not want to go down. That is why there is a distinct change in the representation from Northern Ireland. That is why there is a difference among Unionists in Northern Ireland today. We have come to the position where we must stand up for the basics of our British heritage. We must stand up for courts that are courts. We must stand up for justice that is justice. We must stand up for those elementary rights that are the basics of the British constitution.
"Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble's scathing portrayal of a proposed amnesty for fugitive paramilitaries as the last straw for unionists is deeply disingenuous. The UUP leader they point out was a participant at the Weston Park talks last summer when the principle of an amnesty for on the runs paramilitaries was approved by the Irish and British governments and Trimble was fully aware of the agreement and its implications at the time the document was drawn up."
Yet he was busy denying throughout the country that he had any knowledge of it. In fact, the former deputy leader of the party of the hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) at that time, Mr. Mallon, said:
How very different it was at Leeds castle. I was called in one nightit was almost after midnightand I was told what I must do by the others. I said, "I'm not doing it. I'm going now to my bed." I called all my people out, and I said, "If you want to see me, Mr. Prime Minister, I'll be here at 7 o'clock in the morning. If you don't want to see me, I don't care. I'm not bending my knee to you. I represent people! Those people put me where I am, and I am going to keep my faith. When I leave politics, no Ulsterman or woman, whether Unionist or nationalist,
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will look me in the face and say that I did not keep the word that I pledged to my people." And I left, and when I got back, the Prime Minister was waiting to tell me that he was not proceeding with what everyone had planned, so they did not get anything out of me. They will not get anything out of me, other than what I am pledged to fight for on behalf of my constituents. I am here to represent them, and by the grace of God I am going to do that, and so is my party.
Rev. Ian Paisley: The Government can wheedle and say this, that or the other thing, but the straight line is this: there is only one remedy for Northern Ireland and that is pure democracy. We need a return to pure democracy.
Dr. McDonnell: Was this on-the-runs stuff not in the comprehensive agreement of a year ago? [Hon. Members: "No."] Well, it was very clear to most of us that there was some[Interruption.] I am sorry, but there was some reference to it and there was a fair amount of detail of it.
Rev. Ian Paisley: I say to the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Dr. McDonnell) that I wrote to the Prime Minister to tell him that I wanted him to sign a document to show that we had nothing to do with these things. I have that document, for I was not going to be fooled like other peoplethere was too much at stake.
Mark Durkan: I thank the right hon. GentlemanI shall give you your proper title. What you say confirms that you knew that on foot of the Government's dealings with Sinn Fein, legislation would come forward and you would be in the position of opposing it in the House. That was the same position as the Ulster Unionist party
Rev. Ian Paisley:
I shall leave the Ulster Unionists to answer for themselves. The people of Northern Ireland know what happened and they have given their verdict. I am not re-fighting the elections; elections come and elections go. The people of Ulster have given their verdict, and I wish that the House would heed that verdict.
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Rev. Ian Paisley: All I can say is that I was in the House when the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland read out a letter that had been sent by Mr. Trimble on that very issue. It is in Hansard, so hon. Members can read exactly what was in it. This is not something that we have made up in our minds. However, I am glad that the hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) will be in the right Lobby tonight. I hope that he will table amendments for thorough discussion in Committee, because I agree with the former Secretary of State that there are matters with which we must get to grips because they run to the very depths of the matter of Northern Ireland and its good government. I am sure that hon. Members will be able to put their case in Committee.
I have been a Member of the House for a long time, but I have never before seen a Minister getting what the Secretary of State got today. Surely that message should get home to the Government. Surely the Government should say, "Hold on. What are we going to gain by this?"
What did Mr. Adams say today? He said that he did not believe that the police or the Army should have anything but the law of the land, but he wants a different law for his people. That is his attitude. He needs to get the message loud and clear that we all stand on a common platform: every man obedient to the law and every man equal under that law. When Northern Ireland gets that, we will have real agreement, peace and prosperity for our people, whether they be Protestants, Roman Catholics, Jews, Hottentots or anyone elsethey will all share in it.
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