Security Situation

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons am 12:00 am ar 27 Chwefror 1997.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson , Ruislip - Northwood 12:00, 27 Chwefror 1997

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will make a statement on the implications for the political peace process in Northern Ireland of the current security situation. [16365]

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

The IRA continues its murderous attacks, indifferent to whom it may kill or maim. In the absence of the IRA declaring and implementing an unequivocal ceasefire that is credible, Sinn Fein continues to exclude itself from the process of talks. With or without its participation, we shall continue to further the process of inclusive and comprehensive talks.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson , Ruislip - Northwood

Is it not time to pay tribute to the steadfastness of my right hon. and learned Friend and his ministerial team in their insistence that the governance of Northern Ireland shall always be democratically decided, and will never change in response to intimidation, fear, any atrocity or any political pressure that is imposed by the apologists of violence such as Sinn Fein?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

We are certainly steadfast in that policy and in that cause. I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for what he has said. It is slightly unnerving to have a tribute paid to one in this post.

Photo of Mr James Molyneaux Mr James Molyneaux , Lagan Valley

Does the Secretary of State agree that the most significant impact on all the proceedings is the emerging fact that Sinn Fein-IRA totally abhors the principle of consent, and has thereby lost all sympathy and support throughout the world? Does he agree that this is the time for progress on the restoration of practical measures to restore effective administration to the people of Northern Ireland?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that Sinn Fein and the IRA have steadfastly refused to endorse the principle of consent, thereby, of course, refusing to endorse the foundation of democracy. I very much wish that greater responsibility was able to be exercised by people elected for that purpose in Northern Ireland. It is the purpose of the talks process to find a means by which, based on consent and comprehensive agreement, that can be achieved.

As I approach the end of my tenure, I am no more enamoured of direct rule than I was at the very beginning. About the first thing that I said in public was that I needed to enhance democratic responsibility in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham , North West Norfolk

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that currently one of the most distasteful sights in Northern Ireland is the unauthorised IRA signs in South Armagh proclaiming "Sniper at Work"? Does he agree that they are an insult not only to the family of the lance-bombardier but to all those residents who expressed their dismay over his murder? Whose responsibility are those signs, and when will they be taken down?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

I very much agree with my hon. Friend's comments on the signs. I think that they are an insult, and that they are provocative and revolting. I understand that they are occasionally taken down. I will write to my hon. Friend, if he will allow me to do so, about the implications of his question.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

Is it not of interest that, following the cowardly murder last week of the British soldier, the Taoiseach made it perfectly clear that those responsible—the IRA—were the dedicated enemies of the Republic of Ireland, as indeed they are of Northern Ireland and of the entire United Kingdom? No doubt the Taoiseach will make his views quite clear when he speaks at Monday's meeting in Dublin of the British-Irish parliamentary body. Is it not important for the IRA to realise that murdering British soldiers will not in any way bring a united Ireland one step nearer, that such murders are totally unjustified, and that those who commit them are committing crimes against humanity?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

I warmly endorse the hon. Gentleman's comments, and pay tribute to his holding consistently to those views and to his expression of them. I noticed that Mr. Bruton, the Taoiseach, said recently: The IRA campaign is anti-Irish and contrary to the interests of all in Ireland. I pay tribute to that comment, and endorse it. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that no amount of violence or of criminal murderous activity will deflect the Government or those in the security forces who steadfastly serve all the people of Northern Ireland from their duty—which is to uphold democracy and to protect the rule of law.

Photo of Dr Mo Mowlam Dr Mo Mowlam , Redcar

Does the Secretary of State agree that progress on this summer's parades have implications also for political progress? With that in mind, we welcome the measures he announced yesterday in response to recommendations in the North report. Will he now tell the House when he expects to announce the membership of the Parades Commission? As he is halfway through his further consultation, will he also tell us what additional information he has gained from the submissions made to him on the nature of the powers that the commission should have?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

It is premature to say anything about the nature of the submissions or about the results of the consultation when the consultation is incomplete. It will be completed at the end of March, and we have a genuinely open mind until then. I hope to be able to announce the composition of the commission fairly shortly. We attach great importance to its establishment and to its early assumption of those powers that we have accepted straight away as being proper.