HC Deb 12 May 1983 vol 42 cc910-1
16. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many terrorist incidents there have been in the Province for the first quarter of 1983; and how this compares with 1980, 1981 and 1982.

Mr. Prior

As the answer involves a table of figures, I am having copies of the information requested placed in the Library. The figures show an encouraging decline in the number of shooting and bombing incidents, although unfortunately this has not been matched by the reduction in the number of fatalities.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

In view of my right hon. Friend's earlier comments, does he agree that these figures show that the highly professional activities of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, supported by the Army, are gradually whittling away the strength of the terrorists in Northern Ireland? Do these figures bear out the view that the creation of a Northern Ireland assembly has in no way destabilised security in the Province?

Mr. Prior

I can confirm that there is no conclusion to be drawn from these figures that would suggest that there has been any deterioration in the situation, or problems resulting from the Northern Ireland assembly. I agree that the assembly has helped to create a feeling of political stability and thus normality within the Province. I confirm that things continue to improve, but we still have a long way to go and there is no satisfaction to be drawn from the figures, even as they are.

Mr. Kilfedder

As the fiendish, satanic savagery of the IRA cannot be fully eradicated in Northern Ireland without the full and unequivocal support of both communities in the Province, will the right hon. Gentleman hold a conference with Church leaders to initiate a campaign in those areas whichthe terrorists dominate? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman might like to chair that conference after 9 June?

Mr. Prior

I should be happy to chair such a conference after 9 June. I hope that the good works that my hon. Friend has carried out in acting as Speaker of the Assembly in Northern Ireland will also help him to play a part in Northern Ireland affairs after the election.

Mr. Farr

To what extent has my right hon. Friend been able to improve his knowledge of the origin of the weapons used by these criminals in their acts of violence in more recent years?

Mr. Prior

I am not quite certain to what my hon. Friend is referring. If he is referring to intelligence and information, the answer is that more intelligence and information are now available, but what is required is for the whole community to get behind the forces of law and order and to give support. There are too many people at the moment who contract out of the responsibility which they have to the whole community, and out of the lead that is now being given by the Roman Catholic Church.