§ 4. Mr. Proctor
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on security in Northern Ireland.
§ 9. Mr. Stephen Ross
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the current security situation within the Province.
§ Mr. Tom King
Since I last answered questions in the House on 3 July, 16 civilians and nine members of the security forces have died in incidents arising from the security situation. But for the courage and dedication of members of the security forces, and the public-spirited actions of a number of civilians, these tragic totals would have been even greater.
The unstinting efforts of the security forces continue to achieve results. So far this year 521 people have been charged with serious offences and 170 weapons, 15,700 rounds of ammunition, and 3,400 lb of explosives have been recovered.
§ Mr. Proctor
As co-chairman of the Anglo-Irish Conference, will my right hon. Friend say whether there is any validity in Dr. FitzGerald's claim that evidence to have been given against alleged terrorists by Angela Whorisky was withdrawn by the Director of Public Prosecutions because of representations that Dr. FitzGerald had made in the Anglo-Irish Conference? Will he confirm that Angela Whorisky did not herself withdraw any evidence and that the Irish Republic has now been given the right to interfere in the judicial proceedings of Northern Ireland?
§ Mr. King
In response to my hon. Friend's last point, of course not. Certainly no Irish Minister or the Taoiseach would dream of claiming any such thing. Any individual case is a matter for the Law Officers and the prosecuting authorities. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has issued a statement in this connection.
§ Mr. McNamara
Will the Secretary of State confirm that the figures that his Department gave me about increases in violence arising in the 11 months after the signing of the Anglo-Irish accord compared with the figures for violence in the 12 months before the Anglo-Irish accord show that, apart from injuries, there has been no real significant increase and that there has been a marked decrease in the number of shootings and bombings? Therefore, in spite of the hysteria from the extreme Provisionals and the extreme Unionists, one is able to say that there has been no real material worsening of the security position as a result of the accord and that there has been a marked improvement in respect of the finding of bombs, caches and so on.
§ Mr. King
As is well known, the figure for killings is about the same this year as it was for the whole of last year, but, against that, it is very much lower than some years ago. I take no comfort from that, because I know that the whole House will share my view that the figures are far too high. The hon. Gentleman is right about the success of the security forces. The House may be aware of the recovery of some very dangerous weapons indeed only in recent days. There has also been success in recovering a certain amount of explosives and weapons.
§ Ms. Clare Short
Will the Secretary of State confirm that the big increase in violence since the Anglo-Irish Agreement has been in the number of sectarian assassinations by Loyalist paramilitaries? On the general security situation, what information is he willing to share with us about links between elected Loyalist politicians who are represented in this House and those paramilitary organisations? For example, at the Bingham funeral of a man who was buried with full UVF paraphernalia on his coffin, members of the Democratic Unionist party had called at his house and openly shown support for that kind of paramilitary activity. When will the right hon. Gentleman denounce that as even handedly as he denounces Sinn Fein politicians?
§ Mr. King
I have done that on a number of occasions. The hon. Lady is fair and she will know that on previous occasions I have deplored the fact that there are any hon. Members in this House who have any association whatsoever with paramilitary activities. I have made that absolutely clear. The House will be aware that there have been a number of serious incidents, including a number of serious paramilitary incidents and incitement to sectarian violence. Although there has been such an increase, there is no question but that the IRA views the Anglo-Irish Agreement as a great threat to its activities. The cooperation of the British and Irish Governments in this connection is a threat to the IRA. There is no doubt that it is seeking to escalate violence and to destroy the agreement. Some people try to oppose the agreement because they do not understand what it means. The IRA is seeking to oppose the agreement because it understands all too well what it means.