HC Deb 01 May 1972 vol 836 cc31-2
Rev. Ian Paisley

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely, the success yesterday of Cathal Goulding. chief of staff of the official IRA, in breaching the security network on the border of Northern Ireland and entering Londonderry and addressing a publicly advertised meeting there, and the failure of the security forces to take any action whatsoever ". As a Member from Northern Ireland, I regret that the only way that I am able to raise a matter of urgent importance is by asking for leave to move the Adjournment of the House. This is completely unsatisfactory because these matters could have been raised in Stormont when it was carrying out its work. It is impossible for a back-bench Member to raise these matters in any other way, even in a week when Questions are to be answered by the Secretary of State, because the Order Paper is so loaded with Questions that there will be no chance of a Question on this matter being reached.

The matter is specific. Cathal Goulding entered the city of Londonderry where he paraded and inspected members of the IRA. He delivered a lecture on the IRA in the 1940s and then addressed a publicly advertised meeting. I emphasise that the meeting was publicly advertised by circular and by posters exhibited round the area in which the meeting was held. It is interesting to note that while the chief of staff of the official IRA was in Northern Ireland addressing the meeting attacks were being made by members of his organisation on innocent civilians and members of Her Majesty's Forces.

It is important to note that the Government have declared that it is their intention to disentangle the Roman Catholic population from the IRA stranglehold. How can the Government pursue such a policy if they are prepared, by their actions, to allow the IRA to show that it is on top of the situation? Surely the only way by which the IRA's hold on any section of the population can be disentangled is by ensuring that it is vigorously pursued and defeated in its terrorist objects.

The matter is urgent because there is a growing sense of frustration among the loyalist people of the community who see the laws of the country flouted and no attempt evidently made by the security forces to prevent it.

For these reasons, and because I have no other way of raising the matter, I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9.

Mr. Speaker

I am grateful to the hon. Member for having given me notice that he would make this application. I do not intend to be drawn into the question, which I think was implicit in his preliminary remarks, about what might or might not be in order in supplementary questions asked next Thursday. I have simply a procedural decision to take on whether there should be an emergency debate on this matter, or whether it should be pursued in other ways open to the hon. Gentleman. I am afraid that I cannot accept his application.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have no wish to question what you have just said, and I shall never question any ruling of yours. Sir. But when applications under Standing Order No. 9 or to ask Private Notice Questions are made on such matters as this, is full regard given to the fact that they can no longer be raised by Northern Ireland Members at Stormont?

Mr. Speaker

This is a matter for the Chair; the Chair must take responsibility for it. Obviously, one takes into account the fact that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is to answer Questions this week. However, the Chair considers all the relevant circumstances.