§ Mr. Stratton Mills
asked the Minister of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on the Irish Republican Army rocket attacks on Army/Royal Ulster Constabulary posts in Northern Ireland on 28th November;
(2) if he will make a statement on the Irish Republican Army rocket attack on the Army post on Oldpark Road, Belfast, on 28th November; and what steps he proposes to take to protect the 200 schoolchildren who were in the building at that time.
§ Mr. Blaker
I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to a similar Question earlier today by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence.168W
§ Mr. Kilfedder
asked the Minister of State for Defence what action his Department has taken to investigate allegations recently made by a number of Roman Catholic priests in the Republican areas of Belfast about the action of the Army in those areas.
§ Mr. Blaker
I do not accept the complaints made about the Army's methods of operation by a group of priests in Belfast on 20th November. In particular I reject any suggestion that the Army set out deliverately to shoot unarmed civilians of any section of the community in Northern Ireland. The Army's task there is to uphold law and order and protect the community from violence from whatever quarter it may arise. As long as terrorism continues, troops will have to check identities and search for arms and explosives, but they will continue to make every possible effort to conduct their operations with the minimum of inconvenience and hardship to the public. Troops fully appreciate that they must act within the law at all times and that in carrying out their duties they may use only such force as is reasonable in the circumstances. Any specific complaint against members of the Army is investigated thoroughly in accordance with the normal processes of the law and military discipline; but this obviously cannot be done where the allegations are generalised and unsubstantiated.