HC Deb 14 July 1994 vol 246 cc1160-2
8. Mr. Nicholas Winterton

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many police officers, reservists and military personnel have been killed or seriously injured in Northern Ireland in the last 12 months.

11. Mr. Jonathan Evans

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement regarding the current security situation in Northern Ireland.

Sir John Wheeler

Between 1 July 1993 and 30 June 1994, six RUC officers, five military personnel and 79 civilians were killed as a result of the security situation in Northern Ireland. In addition, 131 RUC officers, 319 military personnel and 489 civilians were injured.

No effort will be spared in bringing those responsible for terrorist crimes to justice. Already this year, 246 people have been charged with terrorist-related offences, including 54 with murder or attempted murder.

Mr. Winterton

I thank my hon. Friend for what I would describe as those horrific statistics. Does he accept that the peace process is sadly contributing to those horrific statistics? Does he further accept the fact that we are negotiating with a country that claims part of the United Kingdom as its territory in its constitution and yet we expect our security forces to protect that part of the United Kingdom? Does my right hon. Friend accept that the sooner the Republic of Ireland renounces its claim to Ulster as part of its territory, the sooner these dreadful slaughters will cease?

Sir John Wheeler

My right hon. and learned Friend has already dealt with an aspect of my hon. Friend's question. The fact is that the Republic of Ireland and its police service work as closely as they can with the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the United Kingdom's security forces to prevent crimes and outrages. They will continue to do so. As to my hon. Friend's point about the peace process, the only peace process that matters is the giving up of violence and killing, and the operation of democracy.

Mr. Jonathan Evans

While we express proper concern over the security situation, does my right hon. Friend agree that the House should not allow this Question Time to pass without passing to the security forces our great congratulations on the find of explosives on the Warrenpoint to Heysham ferry, which undoubtedly saved one Member of Parliament—or maybe more than one Member—from seeing an outrage committed within their constituency? Will my right hon. Friend convey to the security forces the grateful thanks of the House for their activities in that regard?

Sir John Wheeler

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He is absolutely right. The security forces are achieving remarkable results. They are professional. They are achieving significant results in the sense that something like four out of five potential terrorist attacks and killings are stopped or prevented before they occur. That shows the degree of professionalism, and I will gladly convey my hon. Friend's remarks to the security forces.

Mr. Beggs

Condemnation of violence and expressions of sympathy to bereaved families and those who are maimed because of IRA atrocities are much too small a response from those who are responsible for the security of service personnel and civilians in Northern Ireland. How many more attacks on helicopters, sniper attacks, mortar bomb attacks and, indeed, blockbuster bomb explosions must occur before the Government face up to the reality that, with or without the support of the Irish Republic, we must have selective internment of the "Godfathers"? The Government should not insult our intelligence any more by repeating the comment made time and again that security co-operation was never better than it is today, because it must have started from a very low position.

Sir John Wheeler

As to the hon. Gentleman's substantial point about the question of internment, it remains available to the Government and is constantly kept under review. But we must measure that possibility against the advice that my right hon. and learned Friend and I receive from the Chief Constable as to the successes of the RUC and the security forces—their achievements, the collection of intelligence and what they believe is the right policy to pursue to prevent these outrages from occurring.