HC Deb 21 July 1983 vol 46 cc549-50
3. Mr. McCusker

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will proscribe Provisional Sinn Fein.

Mr. Prior

I have no plans to do so.

Mr. McCusker

Does the Secretary of State still agree with the assessment that was made some months ago by the then Home Secretary and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that senior members of Provisional Sinn Fein, including Gerry Adams, were involved in the commission of serious terrorist offences? If he does not, why is he still refusing to talk to them? Is it not the case that Provisional Sinn Fein forms the essential propaganda element in the terrorist campaign that is being waged in Northern Ireland, and is it not time that the Government declared this organisation illegal?

Mr. Prior

My reason for refusing to talk to such people is clear, and I wish that this practice was followed by a good many others. Until people renounce violence, they should not be talked to. The problem arises when they represent the views of constituents. In those circumstances, there will be infrequent occasions when, as part of a deputation which perhaps consists of other Members of Parliament or Members of the Assembly, one has to see them. I hope that the clear message will go out from the House that while Provisional Sinn Fein acts unconstitutionally and supports violence, although no charges of violence can be brought against individuals, I hope that nobody will pay any attention to what its members say until they renounce violence.

Rev. Martin Smyth

Following the Secretary of State's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Upper Bann (Mr. McCusker), will he use his influence, following the example of the Government of the Republic of Ireland, to ensure that Provisional Sinn Fein is not given radio and television time, bearing in mind that that is the way in which it backs up its support for active terrorists?

Mr. Prior

There is a difficulty in that regard, because we do not control who has television and radio time. If we did, I could perhaps go further and agree with the hon. Gentleman's suggestion.

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