§ 3.38 p.m.
§ LORD WINDLESHAM
My Lords, this may be a convenient moment for me to repeat a Statement being made by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary in another place on the subject of bomb explosions in Northern Ireland. The Statement is as follows:
§ "There were eleven explosions during the weekend in Northern Ireland, and three yesterday. The most serious incident was at the Abercorn Restaurant in the centre of Belfast on Saturday afternoon when it was crowded with shoppers. Although the bomb was not a large one, the circumstances in which it exploded resulted in two young women being killed and another 136 civilians injured, of whom 30 were detained in hospital, some in a serious condition. Most of the other explosions during the weekend were also in Belfast, but two were in Dungannon and one was at Cookstown.
§ "Yesterday, there were three more explosions in Belfast, a Co-operative store was damaged, and during the afternoon a 40 to 60 lb. bomb exploded in a van parked outside a cinema in the centre of the town. Fifty-six persons were treated for shock and cuts, eight cars were damaged and ex- 26 tensive damage was caused to property. The van in which the charge had been left had been stolen in the Falls Road area earlier in the afternoon. In Londonderry a 40 to 50 lb. charge of explosive was placed in an hotel in Northland Road, by three youths, two of whom were armed. No casualties resulted but extensive damage was done to the premises.
§ "These outrages are remarkable for the utter callousness shown by those responsible. I know the House will wish to join with me in extending our deepest sympathy to those who have been bereaved and to those who have been so terribly injured and mutilated. The security forces will take all possible steps to apprehend those responsible."
§ My Lords, that ends the Home Secretary's Statement.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, as I am sure is the whole House, for repeating that Statement which was, I think, in reply to the Private Notice Question I asked. My only comment is to say why I asked the Question. It is a fact that we are all sated with horror, but I do not think we can avert our eyes from it. I echo the sincere words of the noble Lord in expressing sympathy to the victims. This seems to represent an even more awful and irresponsible worsening of activities by the I.R.A., who seem even more indifferent and incompetent in notifying, or perhaps in deciding not to notify at all. The recent example of a sort of "kangaroo court" justice is one of the most shocking examples we have had. I should like to ask the noble Lord about some new initiative which we understand is coming. I should not want to press him in the context of the sombre Statement that he has made, but if he can give any indication about when some further steps will be taken we shall be grateful. Otherwise we can only contemplate this matter with horror, and hope that the security forces, who are always at risk themselves, and the Ulster Defence Regiment, will continue to show the courage and determination that they have already shown.
§ LORD WADE
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, for repeating the Statement. There 27 is little that one can say. This is one more shocking and tragic outrage in Northern Ireland where there have been so many tragic events. I would only express the hope that this deterioration in tactics of the I.R.A. will not hold up the initiative that has been promised.
§ LORD WINDLESHAM
My Lords, I am grateful for the tone of the comments by both noble Lords who have spoken on this Statement. The number of separate incidents in fact shows some reduction on those of recent weekends: twenty-five shooting incidents as against thirty-nine the previous weekend, and eleven explosions as against thirteen. However, the effects in terms of deaths and injuries to the casualties were a great deal more serious. I can say to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, and to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that if and when the Government decide that any new policies towards Northern Ireland are necessary Parliament will of course be informed. But I am sure noble Lords will agree that both the timing and the content are equally important.