HC Deb 10 February 1977 vol 925 cc1642-4
9. Mr. Wm. Ross

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many assassinations and attempted assassinations there have been in each of the last four months in the RUC O Division.

The Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. James A. Dunn)

There were no assassinations or attempted assassinations in October 1976; there were three assassinations and one attempted assassination in November; there was one assassination and one attempted assassination in December; and in January 1977 there was nine attempted assassinations but no actual assassinations.

Mr. Ross

Is the Minister aware of the great concern felt by my constituents and those of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Mr. Dunlop) at the rising tide of assassinations and attempted assassinations by the IRA in South Londonderry on the eastern side of the Sperrins? The situation is deplorable. Will the Minister undertake to take every necessary step, including an increase in police manpower and the use of the SAS, to destroy the IRA element which is so active in that area? Will he further seek extradition warrants against such persons who flee the jurisdiction, whether to the Irish Republic, the United States of America or any other State?

Mr. Dunn

I assure the hon. Gentleman that every possible step will be taken to deal with these criminal acts. The hon. Gentleman referred to many complicated issues. He will be aware that the control and use of the SAS are in the hands of the GOC. No doubt the remarks that have been made today will be drawn to the attention of the GOC.

Mr. Fitt

Will my hon. Friend rebut the innuendo in the question asked by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Ross) that only the IRA is responsible for assassinations? Will he bring to the attention of the House that quite a number of innocent Roman Catholics have been murdered in the Glencairn area of Belfast in a most hideous and vicious manner by having their throats cut? If he is to send the SAS anywhere in Northern Ireland, will he send it to that area, to prevent assassinations continuing?

Mr. Dunn

My hon. Friend has drawn attention to a fact of life. Assassination, murder, bombing and maiming are acts that do not belong primarily to any one section of the community. We are diminished by any murder, assassination, maiming or bombing, from no matter where it comes.

Mr. Carson

Is the Minister aware that the Forthriver and Glencairn estates are in my constituency? The hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) has tried to impress on the House that only Roman Catholics have been murdered in that area. There have been quite a few Protestants murdered in that area. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the IRA has stepped up its assassination attempts on the RUC? Is he also aware that the reinforced vehicles, much publicised in the Press in Northern Ireland, have not been delivered to the RUC?

Mr. Dunn

I am sure that the House will have taken note of what has been said by representatives from the two parts of the community and will appreciate the difficulties which we continually face. I repeat, the death of anybody diminishes us all. If we cannot join together in a serious attempt to stop these crimes without too much labouring of the point, we shall fail everybody.