HC Deb 20 April 1989 vol 151 cc452-3
7. Mr. Ron Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland have lost their lives as a result of sectarian activity over the past 20 years.

Mr. Tom King

It is not possible to define exactly how many killings were specifically sectarian. However, since 1969, some 2,750 people have been killed as a result of the security situation in Nothern Ireland, including 1,900 civilians.

Mr. Brown

While terrorism, including state terrorism, must be condemned, surely it is time that a Bill of Rights was introduced in Northern Ireland. Otherwise I fear that shootings and bombings will continue. Does the Secretary of State have a view on that? Does he agree that there should be a Bill of Rights? Will he introduce a process of consultation with local communities in Northern Ireland, whether they are Catholic or Protestant? Will he do something politically to solve the tragedy of the North?

Mr. King

Clearly, the figures I gave are an appalling catalogue of human tragedy over the past 20 years. It is against that background that we have sought to address the situation by adopting a determined and positive security policy and by addressing other problems and difficulties—not least those in the social area—that might help achieve the equality of opportunity and the fairness that are relevant to those problems.

Mr. Ian Bruce

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the successes of terrorism in Northern Ireland was to destroy the confidence we have in local and regional government there? Does he agree that one way of stopping sectarian killings would be to ensure a secure form of government in the Province? Has my right hon. Friend received any positive suggestions from Unionist politicians in particular about how matters should proceed, so that those politicians may assume full responsibility for governing the Province?

Mr. King

At this stage we have received very little response. I have made it clear that we wish to know the views of elected representatives within Northern Ireland on the way in which its affairs can best be handled in future. However, while there is an abundance of opinions in Northern Ireland about what the people there are against, it is extremely difficult to find out what they are in favour of.

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