Previous Section Index Home Page

21 Nov 2007 : Column 1303

21 Nov 2007 : Column 1304

21 Nov 2007 : Column 1305

21 Nov 2007 : Column 1306

Mr. Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.



Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Delegated Legislation Committees),


Question agreed to.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 119(9)(European Standing Committees),

21 Nov 2007 : Column 1307

Emissions from Road Transport and Inland Waterways

Question agreed to.


Support for Armed Forces

7.26 pm

Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Con): Our service men and women are the bravest and the best in the world, and we are rightly proud of them, particularly those who serve in the most difficult places in Iraq and Afghanistan. We must adopt policies that will ensure that we provide them with the correct equipment while they are serving out there, and provide them with a better deal when they return to this country. It is with that in mind that my constituents, led by David Cain of Canvey Island, prepared the petition, which states:


21 Nov 2007 : Column 1308

Policing (Northern Ireland)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Tony Cunningham.]

7.28 pm

David Simpson (Upper Bann) (DUP): I am very glad to have succeeded in obtaining this Adjournment debate.

Northern Ireland has made some progress in recent times, and we can see advantages of devolution in proper scrutiny, accountability and local decision making. Instead of killing the police, mainstream republicans have signed up to public support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Those are steps forward towards a final destination, but other issues still need to be tackled. We need a new beginning to parading. Victims and survivors of the troubles must be kept to the fore, not just in funding but on a settled, strategic basis. Equality issues cry out for reform. In time, we must move on to a more normal system of government, and it is vital that the IRA’s so-called army council be stood down.

There are also serious issues surrounding the activities of dissident republican paramilitary organisations. Northern Ireland recently witnessed a stark and brutal reminder of our darker past. I know that I speak for all hon. Members when I condemn such attacks without hesitation. We all wish the police officers a speedy recovery, and wish, too, for speedy arrests, trials and convictions. That process would be greatly aided if, alongside words of condemnation, senior republicans, out of a sense of civic duty, passed on everything they knew about such people to the PSNI.

We must also tackle the continuing problem of loyalist paramilitary organisations. Yes, the recent announcement was a step that takes things a bit further along. However, more remains to be done to deal with weapons and to call time on all forms of criminal activity. We are debating policing this evening, and everything that ties up necessary police resources contributes to making society less safe and people less secure. That goes for loyalist as well as republican communities.

The current position of mainstream republicans also requires attention. The recent murder of Paul Quinn brought that to the fore once again. If it emerges that the IRA sanctioned that cowardly murder, will the Government take the view, as they did in the past, that democrats should be punished with the guilty, and say that we must continue to sit alongside them in an Executive? Would the Government then seriously propose devolving policing powers in such a setting? Have the Government genuinely learned so little? Is that what they expect—or perhaps what they expect of Northern Ireland politicians? Is that what they would call on the people of Northern Ireland to accept? If the Government are serious about devolution in Northern Ireland and about ever devolving policing and justice powers to Northern Ireland, they will display that seriousness now, or else they will show that they have not learned the lessons of recent years.

We must also consider how we can best assist the police in performing their duties. Northern Ireland needs a police college, and work needs to commence urgently. The Northern Ireland Office has been stalling over police community support officers. When will proper funding be forthcoming? That needs to be tackled, and
21 Nov 2007 : Column 1309
I urge the Minister to inform us exactly when the necessary steps will be taken and confirm that recruitment of police community support officers will definitely commence in April 2008.

We must also consider the way in which we deal with past crimes. There is a continuing denial by many of their past. That is especially true of the republican movement. There is huge denial by republicans about what they call collusion. On 30 July, Gerry Adams said:

Speaking at the so-called march for truth in Belfast, he stated:

He continued:

Mr. Adams is in the state of denial that has come to characterise Irish republicanism.

I now come to a more personal part of my speech, which is about a relative. On 1 May 1979, ex-Reserve Constable Frederick—or, as he was affectionately known, Eric—Lutton was murdered by the IRA outside a National Trust attraction in the village of Moy, in County Armagh. A police radio alert called officers who were on patrol in the area. It told them that a shooting had occurred and that a Renault car had been used as the getaway vehicle. Those officers arrived at the scene as Mr. Lutton was being placed inside the ambulance. They set up a vehicle checkpoint five miles from the incident, at which they stopped a cattle lorry coming from the direction of the shooting.

Inside that lorry were two brothers, well known smugglers with deep republican connections. The names of those two brothers have been forwarded to the historical inquiries team. As the police questioned the driver, one of the officers looked in the back of the truck. Inside was a Renault car matching the description of the getaway vehicle. The brothers were questioned about that and offered no credible explanation. Both were arrested under section 14 of the prevention of terrorism Act, “on suspicion of being involved in terrorist activity”. The two brothers were separated. One took the truck with a police escort to Gough barracks in Armagh, which we all know, and the other was taken in a police vehicle.

That happened within 30 minutes of the shooting and less than five miles from where it took place. Yet today no record is to be found with the police of those two brothers or their arrest. Did they enjoy protection or immunity from prosecution? It has long been asserted by police officers that that was the case, and that another well-placed officer who was a relative of the two helped, as it were, to “get it fixed” for them. Tonight we have to ask: was that the case?

As the ambulance carrying Mr. Lutton approached the hospital, a local cleric stopped his car in the middle of the road, blocking its path. He was made to move
21 Nov 2007 : Column 1310
his car and Mr. Lutton was admitted to hospital, where he died. Why were no charges ever brought against that individual? We do not know whether Eric would have survived—probably not—but impeding the medical assistance of a gravely wounded police officer not only was immoral, but helped to ensure that he would never provide any testimony about who was responsible.

While at the family home, investigating officers discussed the case in front of Mr. Lutton’s wife and family. They identified one Mr. Francie Molloy as a live suspect in the killing. They discussed the need to pursue a thorough investigation of Mr. Molloy. To a man, the investigating officers agreed that that was a vital line of inquiry. All that was discussed openly, in front of Mr. Lutton’s wife and family. Molloy was well known to the police, yet none of this was ever fully investigated. Why was he not properly investigated?

As well as being a suspect in the Lutton case and known to the police, Francie Molloy was well known—this information comes from the police—for a series of sexual indiscretions. That was to rebound on Francie Molloy. He was caught by the security forces in a compromising position. As a result, he was recruited as an informer for the police. He would make regular contact with a handler at a public phone box near a road haulage company in town called Tamnamore, in County Tyrone. During the years that followed, Molloy passed on information to the police in Northern Ireland. That helped them to break open the IRA’s notorious east Tyrone brigade. Prior to Molloy’s recruitment, the east Tyrone brigade had been virtually impregnable. After it, the brigade suffered setbacks, taking direct hits and losing personnel.

Any right-thinking person would wish to welcome the fact that the police in Northern Ireland were able to run agents against the IRA and to compromise it. But during that time, even though Molloy was an informer, it is also true that innocent people were attacked, injured and murdered, and he said or did nothing to prevent that. He was less than a willing informer. While he gave over enough information to help to compromise the IRA in east Tyrone, the question still lingers as to whether he gave everything he knew. How many of Molloy’s neighbours lived under threat? How many were forced out of their homes, attacked, injured, killed or bereaved while he did nothing? Any good that he might have done by acting as an informer against the IRA, and by helping to compromise the east Tyrone brigade, was more than cancelled out by his callous disregard for the lives of his neighbours.

Today, Francie Molloy is Deputy Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly. He is also the Sinn Fein spokesman on victims. If ever anyone was wholly unsuitable for such a position, it is Francie Molloy. Gerry Adams has said that the truth behind republican informers—or touts, as they are called in Northern Ireland—ought to be told. However, he has described all such people as former republicans. How can this particular tout be a former republican when he remains a Sinn Fein MLA and his party’s spokesman? How can he be a former republican when he is Sinn Fein’s nominee for the position of Deputy Speaker in the Assembly? The denial that runs right to the very top of Sinn Fein is still very evident.

I have been criticised by some for doing what I am doing here tonight. I want to make it perfectly clear that I am taking this step in order to ensure that a story that
21 Nov 2007 : Column 1311
needs to be told will be told. The police in Northern Ireland infiltrated the republican movement, and they were helped by agents such as Francie Molloy and others yet to be exposed, whose activities weakened it from within. That the security forces would run agents was only to be expected, and that those agents would be people like Molloy who were usable in that way was predictable. However, the fact that someone such as Molloy chose to allow innocent people to die is reprehensible, and that is why he deserves to be exposed here tonight. I make no apology for doing that.

There is a clear need to deal with the past in Northern Ireland, and in particular, with the policing of the past. I—and many, if not all, Members of the House—have the highest regard for the brave officers who protected the people from those who were intent on their murder. Today, however, there are many unsolved cases, grieving homes and vacant chairs. Many people do not even know the story of how their loved ones were cut down. We must give that to them.

When I compare the money thrown at inquiries with the relatively small amount of funding that has been granted to the historical inquiries team, I have to ask whether the money could not have been better spent. We now also have Eames-Bradley consultative group. That group must not be used as a replacement for our competitor against the historical inquiries team. It is also important that there be no simple, one-size-fits-all attempt at a solution. Rather, there must be an approach that allows for individual grief to find expression—and, we hope, eventually some comfort.

The past in Northern Ireland still cries out for its pain. The Bible contains this lament in verse 11 of chapter 8 of the book of Jeremiah:

In attempting to bring some kind of healing to the many in Northern Ireland who still carry the painful legacy of our past, we need to ensure that that we do not inflict the same upon them.

7.45 pm

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Paul Goggins): I begin by congratulating the hon. Member for Upper Bann (David Simpson) on raising the issue of Northern Ireland policing in tonight’s Adjournment debate. I know that he follows this issue very closely, not least because he is a member of the Policing Board. I hope that he will understand why it is not possible for me to comment on the detailed allegations and statements that he made, particularly in the latter part of his speech, in respect of the murder of Frederick Lutton—or Eric to the hon. Gentleman, as he was a close relative. I will say, however, that Mr. Lutton, as a reservist RUC officer, was playing an important role in trying to keep the peace and maintain law and order at that time. He was one of the 3,368 innocent people who—needlessly and often in a very violent way—lost their lives during the troubles.

Next Section Index Home Page