§ 2. Mr. Stephen Ross
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will call for a report from the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary on their progress in investigating the incident in Londonderry during which two teenagers were knocked down by Army Land-Rovers and received injuries from which they have since died; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Michael Alison)
Investigation of this incident by the Royal Ulster Constabulary is well in hand. When it is completed the RUC will forward the papers to the Director of Public Prosecutions for his consideration. It would be inappropriate meanwhile for me to call for a report.
§ Mr. Ross
I echo the Secretary of State's words in support of the security forces in Northern Ireland. I imply no criticism whatsoever. However, does the Minister accept that there is some feeling of distress about this incident? The hope is to be expressed that if anybody is found to be at fault the fact will be made public. When is the inquest likely to be held?
§ Mr. Alison
I cannot give precise information about the inquest. The report from the RUC will be handed in as soon as it is complete. Adequate time must be allowed for that. The death of two youngsters in these circumstances is appalling. However, the circumstances were those of a riotous assembly, and a vehicle came over the brow of a hill rapidly. A great deal must be considered. I cannot say any more until the investigation is completed.
§ Mr. Wm. Ross
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, although we may accept in normal circumstances that members of the security forces driving vehicles should be subject to the same laws as others, surely any event that takes place in the middle of a riotous occurrence in which the police and the Army have been petrol-bombed by a riotous crowd for a considerable period, in an area which used to be Protestant until the Protestants were driven out by intimidation, must be the subject of careful investigation before any charges are brought? Is he aware that in the same area on Tuesday of this week the police 871 had two acid bombs, 13 nail bombs, 18 blast bombs and 290 petrol bombs thrown at them by a similar-sized riotous mob?
§ Mr. Alison
Naturally the investigations will be extremely thorough. It is for the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide whether there should be any prosecution in the circumstances.