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Suspension of Devolved Government Orders of the Day — Northern Ireland Bill
Re: Martin McGartland attempted murder
“Let me ask the Secretary of State this: who is responsible for the murder of Paul Downey? Who is responsible for the murder of Brendan Fegan? Who is responsible for the murder of Eamon Collins, the IRA informer? Who attempted to murder Martin McGartland? Everyone in Northern Ireland knows; everyone in the RUC knows. How is it that the Secretary of State does not know? The Secretary of State is determined that she must have evidence, but we all know who is responsible for those acts.” Mr Andrew Robathan (Blaby, Conservative)

11:50 pm

Mr Andrew Robathan (Blaby, Conservative) We have heard a good deal about failsafes and guarantees on Third Reading and, indeed, throughout the day. In the Bill, I see no failsafes and no guarantees. Labour Members may ponder on the history of rushed emergency legislation in the House. They may remember the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998, which we all rushed back to pass last September. It was terribly important for that legislation to be rushed through in a single day. Since that time, 10 months ago, seven

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people have been charged and no one has been convicted. Rushed emergency legislation is generally to be avoided. We have heard today—from, among others, the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer)—that this represents a tremendous chance that must be grasped. According to the Prime Minister, it is the chance of a lifetime. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard) said earlier, the Prime Minister said that his pledge to the people of Northern Ireland was that those who use or threaten violence must be excluded from the Government of Northern Ireland … prisoners will be kept in unless violence is given up for good. Violence goes on, day in day out, on the streets of Northern Ireland. There are beatings on the streets of Northern Ireland; there are murders on the streets of Northern Ireland. There is intimidation, there are exiles, there is targeting of members of the security forces, day in day out, on the streets of Northern Ireland; yet we continue with this trust. We have to trust the terrorists. Now we are asked for another leap of faith: another act of trust. We are told by the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Temple-Morris), "The war is over." He must have chosen those words advisedly. They were the words used by Sinn Fein in, I believe, 1993, when it sent my noble Friend Lord Mayhew—then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland—the message, "The war is over." How is it possible to reach such an accommodation? The war was not over in 1993; the IRA retains its weapons. How can the hon. Gentleman use those words? It is not a leap of faith that we are requested to make, but a leap into the dark. The Secretary of State, with good intentions, says that we must have evidence; but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major) said, even the dogs on the streets of Northern Ireland know who is responsible for certain acts. Let me ask the Secretary of State this: who is responsible for the murder of Paul Downey? Who is responsible for the murder of Brendan Fegan? Who is responsible for the murder of Eamon Collins, the IRA informer? Who attempted to murder Martin McGartland? Everyone in Northern Ireland knows; everyone in the RUC knows. How is it that the Secretary of State does

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not know? The Secretary of State is determined that she must have evidence, but we all know who is responsible for those acts. The Government are the dupes of the paramilitaries, both loyalist and republican—but it is not the loyalist paramilitaries who matter; only IRA-Sinn Fein will be a beneficiary of the Executive places. The Government are the dupes of McLaughlin, Adams and McGuinness, and I fear that that is to the shame of the Government. The Government must be motivated by good intentions, but are they really concerned with justice, with the rule of law, and with equity in Northern Ireland? They do not seem to be, in the Bill. The Government, and the democratic parties in Northern Ireland, have bent over backward to accommodate the terrorists. Surely there must come a time when there can be no further compromise. I will give Ministers credit for good intentions; I know that they are well intentioned. They must know, however, that the path to hell is paved with good intentions.
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