Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Dr. McCrea : I thank hon. Members for their understanding when I intervened on the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in last week's debate.

Terrorism is an ongoing reality in Northern Ireland. It is true that we have heard certain statements; it is true that many wish to tell us that life has changed
30 Nov 2005 : Column 304
dramatically; and it is true that murders no longer take place day after day after day—we are so thankful that that is the reality. However, that does not mean that terrorism has ceased, because it has changed its form. I have never seen or heard real repentance for their terrorist acts by Sinn Fein-IRA or any of the other paramilitary groupings in Northern Irish society.

As far as my hon. Friends and I are concerned, the tag or name used by a terrorist organisation does not matter, because all acts of terrorism are totally unacceptable in any civilised, democratic society, and no act of terrorism should be overlooked. Last week, I asked the Secretary of State a question about the McCartney case and specifically drew his attention to the report that the Provisional IRA has threatened the McCartney family, who have had to move out of their home. The Secretary of State's answer was no answer because it seems that no one, but no one in Government circles is willing to name the Provisional IRA in connection with anything.

When the Provisional IRA does something, we are told that it is the work of an individual who is a bad apple. As far as terrorist organisations are concerned, individuals do not exist in Northern Ireland—such individuals could not exist within their communities without the backing of particular terrorist organisations. We who live in Northern Ireland know that different forms of terrorism such as intimidation—I have mentioned the McCartney family—have been occurring.

Mr. Dodds : My hon. Friend is right to raise the question of individual action and action by paramilitary organisations. When the Secretary of State discussed the McCartney killing last week, he blamed threats against the McCartney family on individuals rather than the IRA. Is that not a dangerous road for the Government to go down? It will not convince the people of Northern Ireland.

Dr. McCrea: I thank my hon. Friend for his timely intervention. That is the very point that the House has to face. The Government will not name the provisionals any more because they are in a sort of deal with the Provisional IRA. They are trying to tell society as a whole and the British community that the members of Sinn Fein-IRA are now democrats and that they have in some sense gone away. Let us remember that the leading lights of the Provisional IRA reminded us, "We haven't gone away, you know." They may have changed their form of terrorism, but the reality of terrorism is still within our society. I do not accept that individuals in the republican community could continue to threaten the McCartney family if the Provisional IRA were saying, "No, lay off the McCartney family." Because there has been compliance in the activity of individuals, the Provisional IRA has been able to try to cast a reflection away from itself.

We have to look even beyond the McCartney situation, however. Let us consider street violence along the interfaces. Especially in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Dodds) and in East Belfast, there are interface areas where rising tension and violent attacks on small Protestant and Unionist communities seem to be permitted, because
30 Nov 2005 : Column 305
anger is not expressed by the Government, who cannot identify those responsible as active members of the Provisional IRA.

Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP): Does my hon. Friend accept that these acts of street violence and genocide along the interfaces are not only permitted, but instigated by leading members of the IRA who are now redirecting their activities towards street violence? Indeed, over the holiday period they organised many of the protests that led to violence against the police and Orangemen in Belfast and other areas.

Dr. McCrea: I thank my hon. Friend, with whom I wholeheartedly agree. It seems that those who speak for the Government are not willing to see this picture because it does not fit in with the picture that they want to paint.

Let us face reality, because unless we do so we will not achieve the normality that we want in Northern Ireland. I can tell the House without a shadow of a doubt that no one would be more delighted if normality were to return to Northern Ireland than my right hon. Friend, the leader of my party, and my hon. Friends. We need normality in our society. We long for that normality, as would Social Democratic and Labour party Members. It is not a lack of desire for normality that makes us want to extend the period to 2012 instead of working towards 2008. We would like this to happen tomorrow if it were humanly possible, but it will not be possible until we tackle the problem. We must ensure that terrorism is defeated and that the structures of terrorism are removed. The sad reality is that under the arrangement between the Government and Sinn Fein-IRA those terrorist structures are not removed and will remain.

I note, however, that other structures are to be removed. Paragraph 5 of the explanatory notes says:

In many cases, there was not a phased reduction but immediate action. On the morning after the announcement was made, observation posts in South Armagh were being taken down regardless of whether they were needed to face the challenge. Those living in isolated Unionist communities along the border in South Armagh would want to ensure that they had proper fortification, proper deployment of troops, and Army observation points or police posts to provide security—

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I must remind the hon. Gentleman that he is speaking to a very specific amendment. Although it is of course legitimate for him to make the argument as to why he believes that there should be delay, and he has done so, his other remarks are starting to get out of proportion to the specific matter of the amendment.

Dr. McCrea: Thank you for your direction, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am happy to abide by that instruction.

We do not yet have normality. My hon. Friend the Member for East Londonderry (Mr. Campbell) mentioned the MLA in Strabane and the situation in
30 Nov 2005 : Column 306
Londonderry. What about the young man who was recently murdered in Armagh? Of course, the Provisional IRA cannot have murdered him because it does not exist any more, so we have to close our eyes to it.

The extended period proposed in the amendment is necessary because we need normality in society. For that to take place, whether in 2008 or 2012, there has to be not only a renunciation of violence by the terrorists but clear evidence for it on the ground, which is not suggested by the murders. Many of the areas in which some of us live are still under the control of an organisation that may not be named the Provisional IRA any more—it may be called Continuity IRA or Real IRA—but is still the same grouping. The terrorist weaponry has come from the Provisional IRA. That creates fear.

For normality to take place, we want to be sure that there is sufficient legislation that gives a clear message to the law-abiding community that this House will provide the adequate protection in law and on the ground that they need—as well as a clear message to terrorists that there is no room for terrorism and that they will be followed until they are brought to justice or defeat. Sad to say, some of the legislation that has recently been proposed will fail in the former regard because many of those people will not be brought to justice.

Mr. Dodds: In supporting the amendment tabled in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for East Londonderry (Mr. Campbell) I intend to be brief, because many points have been covered by my hon. Friends. I remind the Minister and the whole House of the tenor of the Second Reading debate on this important piece of legislation, during which great emphasis was placed on the need for caution as we deal with these issues affecting the people of Northern Ireland.

The hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Lembit Öpik) asked us to look at matters optimistically. I admire his wish to do that. Certainly, we all want to be optimistic about the political situation in Northern Ireland, but we have to provide reassurance to people in the Province that important legislative provisions will not be cast aside before there is an absolute guarantee that they will not be required. It seems to me that the Bill is rushing at fences, because there is not the slightest evidence to suggest that by 31 July 2007 there will not still be a need for the provisions on Diplock courts, for instance.

I remind the House that we are talking about the provisions in part 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 coming to an end at the end of July 2007—in some 18 months' time—unless a Minister comes to this House and seeks to renew them for a further year. I understand that on Second Reading the Secretary of State said that that would take place by way of an affirmative procedure. These provisions could come to an end within a very short time scale. My hon. Friend the Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Donaldson) was right to point out that there is not the slightest evidence to show that, by that date, we will have seen the end of organisations such as those that he mentioned, especially dissident republicans or those on the loyalist side or, indeed, the disbandment of the Provisional IRA. That must be borne in mind.
30 Nov 2005 : Column 307

3 pm

According to the statement that the IRA issued in July, although it may not be engaged in some of the activities that it has carried out in the past 30 or 35 years, it will continue to exist as an illegal terrorist organisation in its aims and objectives. It will not have disbanded by the date that we are considering. Nothing that the leaders of the provisional movement, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, have said recently suggests that they have any intention of disbanding the organisation. We therefore need to ensure that we do not rush ahead and do away with provisions when evidence exists to show that they may still be required.

Next Section IndexHome Page