Clause 70 - Community safety strategy

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 7:00 pm ar 12 Chwefror 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr Seamus Mallon Mr Seamus Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party, Newry and Armagh 7:00, 12 Chwefror 2002

I wish to make one or two observations. The points made by the hon. Member for Reigate were relevant, but I ask him to consider that it may not be possible to write that script for some time. Much as I would like to agree with him, I want the Government to be tied down to firm and specific proposals, and I shall tell the Committee why.

I represent the constituency of Newry and Armagh, which contains south Armagh. There are parts of Northern Ireland where enthusiasm for the Good Friday agreement and all that it entails is not as strong as it might be and as it possibly will be. There are parts of what would be termed, erroneously in my view, loyalist areas of Northern Ireland, where the same would apply. The most appalling examples of justice, in inverted commas, is meted out by those who take it upon themselves to be judge, jury and executioner.

The script—the detail—will have to be painstakingly written. That is why I have been so adamant in trying to ensure a feeling of change. We need the right attitude towards the future, so that at least as a community we can start putting those building blocks together, one on top of the other. It will take a considerable time to do that, and to do it well, but the final product will be the answer to many of the political problems in the north of Ireland and many of the divided attitudes there. The final answer as regards policing will be arrived at in the same manner.

The community, by which I mean the people of Northern Ireland, and the various subgroups within it on which we tend to put labels, will have the opportunity to create for themselves, with the political process, a whole new beginning. That is why I tend to agree with the Government at this stage. It is probably too soon to start painting in the detail, until the broad scene begins to be characterised by hope and belief that can be developed and fostered.