HC Deb 28 July 1988 vol 138 cc558-9W
23. Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on current progress on the ending of the protection racket system operating against firms in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Ian Stewart

The combating of paramilitary racketeering has a high priority in our overall law and order drive. Protection rackets have proved most difficult to counter, chiefly because of evidential difficulties. Nevertheless, determined police efforts have continued and there have been 12 successful court cases since the beginning of 1987, with a number of other cases currently pending.

We have been examining the best ways further to tackle the protection racketeers. In particular, we look to a forthcoming major administrative initiative to help spearhead this drive, an action which should be complemented by the forthcoming Prevention of Terrorism Bill, which will provide us with a further opportunity to fill any gaps in the legislative support being given to the RUC. We intend in the Bill to broaden further and to strengthen our attack on paramilitary racketeering.