HC Deb 29 July 1982 vol 28 cc1216-9
3. Mr. Molyneaux

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will make a statement on the security situation in Northern Ireland.

4. Sir John Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about the security of the Province.

12. Mr. Kilfedder

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the security situation in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Prior

Since I last answered questions on 1 July, the security forces in Northern Ireland have not suffered any deaths or serious injuries, although they have been subjected to a number of shooting attacks.

On 16 July a civilian, the victim of a so-called punishment shooting, was left to bleed to death in Londonderry. The Provisional IRA has acknowledged its responsibility for that murder. On the following day the body of a man was left on waste ground in Belfast. He had been battered to death, and his murder seems to have been connected with the activities of terrorist organisations.

On 6 July a civilian was injured when gunmen fired at him as he was standing outside his home in Belfast. Three days later another man, abducted from a club in Belfast, was later admitted to hospital with serious gunshot wounds to his legs and arms.

There have been 13 bomb attacks on property. Three people were apprehended at the scene of one of these attacks, and they have since been charged with a number of serious terrorist offences. There is grave anxiety that the pregnant wife of one of them may have been kidnapped by terrorists. As a follow-up to the same investigation, eight other people have been charged with serious offences and a large quantity of bomb-making equipment, arms and ammunition has been discovered.

Since 1 July a total of 22 weapons and 909 rounds of ammunition have been recovered by the security forces. Thirty-nine people have been charged with terrorist-type offences, including one with murder and 10 with attempted murder. In the same period the security forces neutralised nine bombs.

Mr. Molyneaux

In view of the hostility of the Irish Republic, which has greatly increased since the Falkland Islands battles, will the Secretary of State take a fresh look at security on the frontier of the United Kingdom, and will he and his Cabinet colleagues set about eradicating terrorist gangs in every part of the United Kingdom?

Mr. Prior

That is precisely what we have been seeking to do for 10 years. We continue to have close co-operation with the Gardai and the security forces over the border, and there has been a great deal of success in recent weeks by the Gardai.

We have a great deal more to do. We continue to make as much progress as we can, but we shall not be aided in improving the situation by a worsening relationship with the Republic. We need the co-operation that we seek, and I believe that we can maintain it.

Sir John Biggs-Davison

Did my right hon. Friend discuss in the United States the commendable efforts that are being made to stop cash and arms going from there to the IRA and the INLA? What progress is being made with smashing the Republican and non-Republican extortion rackets, which finance terrorism in the Province?

Mr. Prior

With regard to the first part of my hon. Friend's question, a great deal of publicity was given in the United States to the terrorist attacks in London. Utter condemnation of them was shown by all sections of the community. I was able to take part in a number of television and radio programmes, when I explained to the public of the United States where their money went. I said that if they allowed themselves to believe that they were supporting honourable causes, they were much mistaken, as they could see from the results of the bombing in London.

With regard to the second part of my hon. Friend's question, of course we are extremely worried about the growth of crime, whether it be protection rackets, gaming machines, or the robbery of banks and post offices, which has become part of the terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland to obtain funds to buy arms. I am making sure that much more attention is paid to that now than before.

Mr. Kilfedder

In view of the horrific atrocities committed by the IRA and the INLA in Northern Ireland and in this part of the United Kingdom over the past thirteen years, will the Secretary of State have talks with the Roman Catholic Church in Northern Ireland about the excommunication of those evil men? Such a decision would have a greater impact on the community and would bring violence to an end sooner than will all the words of condemnation that are said after each murder.

Mr. Prior

I am in contact with the leaders of the Catholic community in Northern Ireland. I am grateful for the much greater assistance that they have given in recent months in condemning outright the murders and terrorist activity and in seeking to get the Catholic community to come forward with more information about terrorist activity. It is not for me to advise them on other matters, but I shall continue to talk to them.

Mr. Concannon

Is the Secretary of State aware that the many thousands of Irish men and women who work in our hospitals, factories, coal mines, steelworks and shipyards and who make and repair our sewers and railways, as well as those who serve in our Armed Forces, some of whom were in the Falkland Islands task force and served with distinction, abhor more than the rest of the population, if that is possible, the foul deeds that have been done by the mindless creatures who bomb, maim and kill in the name of Ireland? Should not the Secretary of State take this opportunity to stop the ugly rumours that the Government are contemplating bringing in next Session spiteful and vindictive legislation against the many thousands of honest, hard working Irish men and women who have served and are serving the country well?

Mr. Douglas Hogg

What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by that?

Mr. James Lamond

Stop yapping.

Mr. Prior

Those are matters that are more for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary than for me. I pay tribute to the many Irishmen who not only condemn these murders, but do much to support the United Kingdom in the cause of justice.

Mr. Blackburn

Will my right hon. Friend, in view of the list of arrests and the successes in recovering bomb material that he has just given, convey to the Chief Constable and officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary the warm and sincere congratulations and admiration of the House? Further, will he give consideration to the full implementation of the Lord Justice Edmund-Davies award to police officers, because I think that a police officer in Belfast is entitled to the same rate of pay as police officers in Birmingham?

Mr. Prior

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's comments about the RUC. I am certain that his view is shared by every hon. Member. With regard to the latter part of his question, I am in further contact with the police authority and will report back to the House after the recess.

Mr. James A. Dunn

With regard to the request that was made and agreed at the time of the Edmund-Davies commission that observers from the Police Federation of Northern Ireland should be allowed to attend meetings of the police authority, notwithstanding any reason that may now be given by the police authority, will the Secretary of State convey to those concerned the anxieties expressed by me and my parliamentary colleagues over the fact that the agreement has not been implemented? There is no reason why it should not be. To continue in the same vein is wholly unacceptable to any fair-minded person.

Mr. Prior

I think that those views are already known to the police authority, but I shall have an early opportunity of reinforcing them.

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