HC Deb 24 July 1975 vol 896 c762
12. Mr. Wm. Ross

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he is satisfied with the present level of activity by the security forces in the Londonderry area.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Ross

Will the right hon. Gentleman recall that on 11th July he signed an order banning an Orange procession in the village of Feeny? Is he aware that the police had discussions with the organisers of that party on the morning of 12th July, at approximately 9 o'clock, yet the police did not see fit to deliver the order for the ban, which they must have had in their possession, but waited until a quarter to five in the evening? This caused much resentment in the area. Is he also aware of the concern my constituents feel at the very great decrease in the number of house searches carried out by the security forces in the Londonderry area in the past 12 months?

Mr. Rees

With regard to the first question, the police came to me late in the day. I consulted the police authority and on the advice that I was given—I am not an expert in these matters and I take advice from the police—I agreed to alter the route of the march. I thought it was good sense. There are many marches taking place in Northern Ireland and we like to prevent the marchers from marching through or near areas that might be affected. This seems to me to be good sense.

The number of house searches at that time was very high, in my view quite properly. House searches are still taking place, and head counting from house to house at different times of the day, although they are far fewer than previously, and I think that this is right in the situation of Londonderry.