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The Nelson case also demonstrated the importance of guidelines for the use of agents. Colonel J, the commander of the FRU at the time, argued that the Home Office guidelines were inapplicable in Northern Ireland. Is that true? If so, have new, specific guidelines for Northern Ireland been introduced to prevent agents indulging in the kind of mayhem perpetrated by Mr. Nelson and his miscellaneous colleagues? Do Home Office guidelines rule in Northern Ireland or are there different guidelines?
I seems clear that the Nelson operation yielded next to nothing to the RUC. Do the Secretary of State and the Government stand behind the claim that Mr. Nelson saved more lives than he destroyed? The House would also be interested to hear what arrangements have been made to prevent the recurrence of such an extraordinary case.
Mr. Phil Gallie (Ayr) : The hon. Gentleman refers to those incidences on the basis of media reports. I wish to point out the dangers of doing so. A programme broadcast some time ago entitled "Death on the Rock" was acclaimed by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and won an award. But that programme was based on very unreliable witnesses. Bearing in mind the media content of the hon. Gentleman's speech, will he join me in asking the recipient of the award, who obviously did not do his research, to return that award?
Mr. McNamara : I welcome the hon. Gentleman's interjection in the debate. First, the killing of three unarmed people when no bomb was in evidence and for an event that was supposed to take place in three days' time, with evidence given by people behind screens, makes me extremely worried about the handling of such matters by the security forces in this country and Gibraltar. Secondly, the transcript of much of Mr. Nelson's trial revealed many of the facts that I have stated. Thirdly, I am aware of no action that has been taken against the producers of that programme, nor of any comment by Government sources that it was inaccurate in any detail.
"Panorama" also made specific accusations that are so appalling that the truth must be established as quickly as possible and remedial action taken if necessary. Did the FRU help Mr. Nelson to turn the chaotic files of the UDA into effective intelligence? Did Mr. Nelson give five warnings prior to the murder of Terence McDaid? If so, why were they ignored?
Will the Minister of State explain when he winds up why the FRU attempted to conceal evidence from Mr. Stevens, a senior police officer appointed by the Chief
Column 382Constable of the RUC? What action was taken against those responsible? Why were they not proceeded against for seeking to pervert the course of justice?
By now, the South African connection with loyalist terrorists is beyond doubt. I cannot understand why the representatives of a state that colludes with terrorists to kill inhabitants of Northern Ireland are still permitted to fly their flag in Trafalgar square. If "Panorama" is to be believed, matters are much worse than previously suspected. A military intelligence agent appears to have been involved in arms shipments from South Africa, which were allowed to enter Northern Ireland and were later used in at least eight murders at the Milltown cemetery and the bookies on Ormeau road.
I can only conclude that the sooner South Africa has a democratic Government, the better for Northern Ireland. I am particularly concerned that agents who were involved in those terrible mistakes might still be active or involved in the security forces.
Mr. Andrew Hunter (Basingstoke) : I urge the hon. Gentleman to maintain fairness in his comments, because the South African connection clearly runs both ways. As long ago as 1969, and reinforced in 1978 and 1984, the IRA acknowledged its support for and co-operation with the African National Congress.
Mr. McNamara : I have listened to the hon. Gentleman on that subject in the past but have never found that his comments have much substance. May I make one thing clear : we are not swapping tit-for-tat allegations between nasty, mean terrorist organisations, but discussing the role and conduct of the British Army. We condemn the IRA and all the other terrorist organisations out of hand. We are discussing the standards that we expect from our forces.
Mr. Mallon : Is the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) aware that a Sunday newspaper that carried a comment of his has paid substantial damages to a constituent of mine because of exactly the same kind of nonsense that he has spoken today? That is a matter of quantifiable fact.
Mr. McNamara : That "Panorama" programme made a serious allegation against the right hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King). I hope that he will make a statement at the earliest opportunity to clarify matters. The programme alleged that, when he was at the Ministry of Defence, the right hon. Gentleman or someone acting on his behalf wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions while he was considering the evidence against Mr. Nelson to say what a valuable agent Mr. Nelson had been to the Army. Is that true?
The Secretary of State is obviously not prepared to reply to my question. It is important because, if it is true, it means that a senior Cabinet Minister, or subordinates acting on his behalf, attempted to lean on the DPP while he was considering whether to bring charges against a man accused of the most terrible terrorist crimes. If it is true, it is another hammer blow to the independence and credibility of the criminal justice system. It means that a senior Minister interfered in the course of justice in a Department to which he is not directly related that was seeking to decide, on the evidence before it, whether charges should be brought.
Column 383Yesterday, The Independent made other allegations from which various inferences can be drawn. It may reflect on the allegation, which the Secretary of State does not seek to contradict, made in "Panorama". It said :
"Early in 1987, Colonel J's superiors came under pressure from Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. According to one source : King was complaining--"Where are your successes?" The clear message from King was : "You must do better." '
One of the FRU's responses was to seek clearance to insert a new agent into the loyalist paramilitary groups. This was opposed by MI5, which argued that the Special Branch had already penetrated the Protestant paramilitary organisations with its own agents. The Special Branch was not even informed, but Colonel J, with political backing, was able to overcome MI5's objections and Brian Nelson was recruited."
The effect of Brian Nelson's recruitment, against the advice of MI5 and without special branch being informed--allegedly because of political pressure--resulted in all the evil consequences that we have seen.
I hope that the Government will realise the significance of those matters and will not treat them with their usual complacency. If we want the rule of law to prevail, we must respect it ourselves and we cannot write to the DPP pointing out the value of a particular agent.
There are no short cuts to a solution in Northern Ireland. There may be temptations to cut corners with the rule of law. Indeed, the legislation on which we are voting tonight shows not only what happens when we yield to that temptation but leads us into more temptation. We do not want the Government to lead us into temptation ; we want them to work to deliver us from the evil of terrorism. We do not believe that they are doing that adequately and, for that reason, we shall vote against the order.
Mr. McNamara : On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The statement has just been made, which you may have heard, that I did not give the right hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) notice of my question. I wrote to him today :
Just a brief note to inform you that I shall be referring to the Nelson Case and your part in it in tonight's debate.
Yours, Kevin McNamara."
The note was on the board at 2 pm.
Rev. Ian Paisley : I do not propose to follow the remarks of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara). Nobody should be tried in this House on speculation or media presentation. Nor should a Member of this House be entitled to say to another Member, "I give you an opportunity to reply" and take his seat. If the allegations are of such a serious nature--the hon. Gentleman went on for some time--how can proper clearance be made in an intervention? Unfortunately, it seems that in tonight's debate the hon. Gentleman has made a long and serious accusation against the Army and has moved away from the fact that we need to defeat terrorism. That is what is important. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not follow all the ramifications of his speech.
Column 384As the first Member from Northern Ireland to be called in this debate, I should like to pay tribute on behalf of the Northern Ireland people to the gallant special constable, Glenn Goodman. I salute his memory tonight, as do all right-thinking Ulster people. I also salute the courage and integrity of his wife. I assure her that what she said tonight is what many widows in Northern Ireland have said. I salute her as a courageous woman who deserves the sympathy of the whole community and our praise.
Yesterday, the chairman of the Royal Ulster Constabulary Police Federation, Mr. Beattie, said :
"If war weariness is affecting the community it is not quite sufficiently evident yet among our politicians. For those of us on the outside of the political talks it seems that progress is extremely disappointing
It will also be much more tragic if we allow the paramilitaries to fill the political void by claiming that their murderous activities reflect the frustration of ordinary people with the political process."
I utterly deplore Mr. Beattie's remarks. Since he was appointed to his office, he has had the habit of making remarks against politicians. Yet when he is challenged he does not name them--he says, "All politicians".
The elected Members of Northern Ireland have had no say whatever in controlling the security strategy of the police, the Army or the Ulster Defence Regiment during the troubles since Stormont was abandoned. We have had no responsibility whatever. Over and over again the elected politicians of Northern Ireland are blamed for failures in a strategy for which they are not responsible. This House took into its control the entire war against the IRA and any other terrorist organisation in Northern Ireland, and it is responsible. Successive Governments, whether Labour or Tory, are responsible--not us. I want to make that perfectly clear tonight.
There is a contradiction between Mr. Beattie's two paragraphs. First, he tells us that he is disappointed, although he is outside the talks, that this war weariness has not caught up with the politicians. I have news for him : the people of Northern Ireland are not war weary and the men whom he pretends to represent are not war weary. I challenge him to hold an opinion poll of the members of the federation and to announce the results publicly. The ordinary man in the street and the policeman who has to carry out his task is not war weary. He does not want the politicians in Northern Ireland to cobble up some miserable betrayal and then pronounce that it is a recipe for peace. Mr. Beattie does not know what is going on behind the doors in Stormont and he will not hear about it from me. Mr. Beattie should mind his own business and not pillory Northern Ireland politicians. Mr. Beattie then makes the strange statement :
"if we allow the paramilitaries to fill the political void by claiming that their murderous activities reflect the frustrations of ordinary people with the political process."
That statement contradicts his first statement. He wants to blame politicians and then he attacks ordinary people as if they would think it right that paramilitaries should act in that way because they are frustrated. I will leave Mr. Beattie to carry out his opinion poll and I look forward to seeing the result next time he brings out his glossy magazine. Knowing the policemen, their wives and families, as well as the bereaved and the awful suffering that they have endured, I can tell the House that war weariness is not apparent in them or in the ordinary people of Northern Ireland. They will not give in to any plan of surrender or compromise.
Column 385Explanations and exercises of so-called understanding terrorism, how it operates and why we must work this way and that way will not defeat terrorism. The men and women of Northern Ireland do not crave for the philosophies of certain politicians and others to explain to them why we have terrorism in the Province. Every day they see the full force and tangible reality of a terrorised existence. They know from desperate experience and personal scarifice that there is terrorism, and they want that terrorism stopped. They look to the Government, who are now responsible for controlling the strategy of the fight against the IRA and other terrorists, to stop this war. No amount of political initiatives or talks will bring the violence to an end. Politicians are not plenipotentiaries for the billigerents. Indeed, the belligerents are not at the talks table and I trust that no Government will ever bring them to that table : they need to be told that they cannot bomb their way to it.
What I see is yet another endeavour to give respectability to the IRA. I do not believe that there is any difference between Sinn Fein and the IRA. One cannot carefully package part of a terrorist organisation, call it by another name, sit down with its representatives and engage in a dialogue with them, claiming that by that means they will be encouraged to persuade the IRA men to leave their weapons and stop their murders. Sinn Fein is part of the IRA, and it has pulled off a great propaganda stunt. Now its members can say, "Oh, but the clergymen accept that we are not the IRA." Today, another effort has been made to give credibility to these murdering thugs and to those who speak for them and justify their diabolical wickedness and are part and parcel of their organisation. The sooner the Government and the House learn of their awesome responsibility to seek to protect the citizens of Ulster by extinguishing terrorism, the better it will be for everyone. Emergency legislation, military and police manpower, superior fire power and vast amounts of expenditure on security will not in themselves bring an end to terrorism. They are the ingredients, but without the proper strategy they will never bring an end to the conflict.
The Government and the House must have the will to win the war against the IRA republican terrorists, who kill three times as many people as any other organisation in Northern Ireland. What I say about the IRA, I say about other terrorist organisations, some of whose members are referred to in the House as "Protestant" paramilitaries. I never hear IRA men referred to here as "Roman Catholic" IRA men. The House should realise that it is an insult to the Protestant people and the Protestant ethos to say that terrorists are Protestants. Terrorists have rejected the very ethos of Protestantism, which is the belief in civil and religious liberty for all men. All terrorists must be crushed, and we must face up to the IRA now.
Pandering to the political needs of the IRA by permitting members of Sinn Fein to have a role, however minor, in the political institutions of the land legitimises the organisation's message and gives it hope. Its members thrive upon the hope that, some day, they will be at the table. An ecumenical clergyman whom I heard speaking in the general assembly of the Irish Presbyterian Church argued that, even if the four parties at the table in Northern Ireland reached a settlement, the fifth party would still be at loggerheads and the problem would still be with us. Given that sort of thinking, Ulster people must ask themselves what the end will be.
Column 386The Government should show their will to extinguish any hope that the terrorists may have by proscribing Sinn Fein and bringing its members to justice for illegal activities. If the Government know of other organisations that should be proscribed, they should proscribe them. They are responsible, and they must do what it is their business to do.
Neither the vast sums of money spent, nor increased RUC and military manpower will defeat the IRA. It is the proper allocation and deployment of that money and manpower that will defeat it. The security policy of Northern Ireland must change, and change significantly. The reactive mentality of protectionism must change to a proactive mentality of dynamic aggression against the terrorists. The security forces and not the terrorists must take the initiative. One cannot win the war against the IRA by spreading the security forces in an attempt to protect all IRA targets. If, as Government sources tell us, there are about 500 IRA men, why cannot they be monitored and marked by the security forces and dealt with when they try to pursue their campaigns of murder? The time has come for a change in strategy and in Government policy.
We must also get off the treadmill of emergency legislation. We are debating yet another renewal tonight, and emergency legislation has now become the norm. This is the way we live in Northern Ireland : the norm is terrorism and murder. It has become normal for our children to be brought up against that background. My children are past 20 and, every day of their childhood, they heard of policemen being murdered, of bombings, killings and awful attacks. We must break away from that norm, and ask what emergency legislation does. It serves only to maintain the status quo, and we shall not get anywhere without a change of strategy.
Emergency legislation is the excuse that successive Governments have used to maintain the status quo. The law-abiding people are willing to forgo some of their civil liberties if it means an end in the short to medium term to the nightmare, but they are not willing to give them up indefinitely just so that the Government can maintain the status quo. That should not be the motivation behind the legislation that the Government introduce. The motivation ought to be to deal effectively with the violence, to nip it in the bud, and to bring about stability and peace--and not allow the emergency situation to be institutionalised by time, which is what is happening. The Unionist population is not convinced that the present Government have the will to defeat terrorism, not just in condemnatory, graphic, melodramatic descriptions but by definite actions that strike at its heart. Actions speak louder than words. The people of Northern Ireland have no confidence in the Government's will to deliver peace. They say, "Give us an effective security policy and you will get our full confidence and support. Let us see the job being done." The IRA and all its fellow travellers--those who talk to it--are deceiving themselves when they say that they are interested in political progress. They are more concerned with inflicting the vilest crimes on a free people to ensure that, in any political statement, they can call the tune.
What would Ireland be if the IRA won the war? What sort of settlement would it be? Who would want to live in an Ireland controlled by the IRA? In the infant days of the Irish Free State, the new Government under Michael Collins demonstrated its determination to extinguish
Column 387violence. There was resolution and determination--a lesson which the British Government should learn from Irish history.
So much money has been wasted in Ulster because the Government have not destroyed terrorism. In January this year the total compensation paid out over the past nine months was £22.8 million. Provision for bomb- damaged property between January and March was a further £10 million to be paid on compensation claims. If the Government pursued a policy of inflicting injury on the IRA, there would be no need for that expense. Targets are many and terrorists are few. We cannot expect the police to protect every possible target. They ought to be deployed against the terrorists.
We must also consider the disruption. The City of London has witnessed the kind of disruption that the IRA has caused in our city. The disruption that terrorism brings robs our city and Province of employment and investment. Last year 19 days were lost due to traffic being thrown into chaos because of bomb alert hoaxes. One hundred and forty-three vehicles have been hijacked in the past 12 months in an attempt to bring our city to a standstill. In respect of only 23 of those hijackings of vehicles was anyone arrested, brought to court and tried.
In the past 12 months, bomb disposal experts responded to 1,758 call-outs. That was the highest total in 13 years and it looks as though the record will be broken again this year. Those are the sad statistics. The largest bomb ever used in Northern Ireland was defused at Annaghmartin. Massive bombs were exploded in Glenanne, Kilrea, Markethill and Craigavon. That is what has happened since we last discussed these matters.
The spiral of appalling killings is becoming more horrendous as 1992 advances. Forty-seven people have been killed already this year, 45 of them civilians. More than 12,000 troops are in Northern Ireland. In all, there are about 35,000 security personnel in the Province. Yet the Government assure us that there are only 500 active terrorists. Why, then, cannot the security forces do something to deal with the problem? The spiral of vile criminal activity will continue for as long as the current inept attitude of the Government is permitted to continue. Emergency legislation can be successful only if it is backed up with effective action.
We heard from the Secretary of State about border security. I was not satisfied when he said that the people who open the roads in Northern Ireland cannot be prosecuted because there is no law in the south about that. Those people come into Northern Ireland and do that particular job. We hear about it continually on the radio. Public figures and representatives advocate opening roads. No effective action seems to be taken against that.
I could repeat the things that I have said over many years in this place, but I do not want to weary the House. Northern Ireland can climb out of the litany of failure only if democratic structures are nurtured and the security forces are given the opportunity to deal with the problem.
The one point with which I want to deal tonight is the attitude of the Irish Government in deliberately refusing to extradite people wanted in Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom for terrorist attacks. The list of IRA men
Column 388freed in the Irish Republic yet wanted in the United Kingdom continues to grow, despite claims and promises that the law will be reformed.
In February 1990 there was the case of Clarke and
Finucane--convicted IRA murderers who had escaped from the Maze prison. They were released by the Irish Supreme Court on the spurious judgment that if they were returned to the Maze they would be "assaulted or injured." Such allegations do more to destroy any hope of good cross-community and cross-border relations.
In 1990 the courts in the south refused to extradite Owen Carron him for political offences. The political offence was the possession of firearms. In December 1988, in the case of Patrick Ryan--the most notorious case in recent Irish history of extradition--the Irish Attorney-General permitted that priest to go free on the basis that he could not receive a fair trial if he was extradited. Patrick McVeigh, who was wanted for charges of bombings in the United Kingdom, had his warrant refused by the Irish court on the basis that it was faulty.
In August 1986, John Gerard O'Reilly, who was wanted in Belfast on charges of conspiracy to murder, was released in Dublin because the warrants were defective. In March 1986, Evelyn Glenholmes, a triple IRA murder suspect, was released in Dublin because of alleged faulty warrants. In December 1985, Brendan Burns, who was wanted for killing soldiers in Northern Ireland, was released because warrants were declared invalid.
In December 1982, Dominic McGlinchy was wanted for murdering an elderly postmistress. The Irish Supreme Court ruled that such a murder was not a political offence, and he was the first suspect to be extradited to Northern Ireland for trial. At his trial in Northern Ireland, he was acquitted--I am sure that he would agree that it was a fair trial--and re- extradited to the Republic, where he was jailed for other offences. The excuse that suspects would not get a fair trial in Northern Ireland has been exploded--it is a myth. Claims that suspects will receive an unfair hearing in the United Kingdom courts are purely fictional. Two years after the McGlinchy episode, Seamus Shannon was returned for trial in Belfast in connection with the murder of Sir Norman Stronge and his son. Shannon was acquitted. Other cases in which suspects have been extradited include Gerard Harte, who was extradited in 1988 and gaoled, Robert Russell, who was extradited in August 1989 and regaoled, and Paul Kane, who was extradited in April 1988 and regaoled.
Those extradition figures show the absolute failure by the Republic to keep faith with its claim of wanting to be a good neighbour. The IRA can openly abuse the border as a safe haven, and the Irish Supreme Court openly sanctions such claims. It is little wonder that the northern majority refuse to participate in any proposed cross-border relations.
In 50 per cent. of those extradition cases in which the British Government have been successful in extraditing a suspect, the suspect has been acquitted, thus making a mockery of the Irish Supreme Court's claim that those who are extradited to Northern Ireland for political offences will not receive a fair trial.
The time has come when the Government must look carefully at the problem of those who are held in Castlereagh. I do not see any difficulty in showing a video without sound, indicating whether an officer approaches a prisoner, whether he strikes a prisoner, or whether he does
Column 389anything that he should not do. I do not see what the objection is. There are some objections to recording an entire interview because of security reasons, and I can understand why, but I do not see why there should be such objections to a picture. Not only Roman Catholics but Protestants object.
I have a serious case at the moment involving accusations by a mother who was taken to Castlereagh. She is an old woman of 70, and she was taken to Castlereagh and shown her son sitting in a cell. The police are alleged to have said to her, "You see your son there? Well, he will be there for ever." That is very serious. The way to deal with such a case is to film the people concerned. There may be difficulties for the defence and for security in recording everything that is available, but I do not see why we cannot have a camera record of a suspect--
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Michael Mates) : Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman. That facility has existed for some time. Cameras are monitored independently by uniformed members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary quite separate from the investigation branch in Castlereagh. All the time a suspect is under interrogation he is watched from outside on a closed-circuit video by a uniformed officer of the rank of inspector.
Mr. Mates : No, the interviews are not recorded, but the inspector takes a note of when the person for interview goes in and how long he is there and watches him the whole time he is there. That is part of the inspector's daily duty.
Rev. Ian Paisley : I accept what the Minister says, but he has not given me any new information. I must not have put my message across. I am arguing that a recording should be made which can be made available when accusations are made. I can only see that as helping to clear police officers. I know that it is a usual ploy of people brought in for questioning to accuse the police. We all know that. Why cannot we have a recording of the interview without any words being recorded? I am aware of the argument about a full recording of the words. I am talking about seeing the interview afterwards. That is an important point and the Government must face up to it. We must also make it clear that there is no support in any part of the community for holding people for long periods without trial. That feeling goes across the communities. It is not a pleasant thing to be held in Crumlin Road prison. I have done two stretches there, so I know Crumlin Road prison well. It is unpleasant to be in a cell for 24 hours every day. I do not know whether any men here have been in a cell, but to sit there with the door locked 23 hours a day for perhaps a year or 18 months is unacceptable.
When I visit the prison as the Member of Parliament for my constituency and as the Member of the European Parliament for the whole of Northern Ireland, all the men say, "Get us tried. Get us to court. Then, if we are found guilty, at least we shall have reasonable living conditions."
Column 390Living conditions in Crumlin Road prison are not reasonable. The Government must face up to that, and I hope that they will. I know that there are difficulties.
I am glad that there is now proper segregation in the Crumlin Road prison and that we do not have confrontations between various sets of visitors. I hope that that segregation will long continue. The Government may argue tonight that it is not separation or segregation but no longer do Republicans and Loyalists mix. I was talking to a prisoner the other day when I was doing my duty at the prison who said, "I never see a Republican." I said, "Long may it continue." The Republicans say, "I never see a Loyalist." That is the way it ought to be.
I hope that the conditions in Crumlin Road will be brought under careful scrutiny by the Government and that something will be done to ease not only the time that it takes to bring people to trial but the conditions in which they are held while waiting for trial. 9.12 pm
Mr. Ken Maginnis (Fermanagh and South Tyrone) : It was most appropriate that Lord Colville prefaced his report by outlining the dilemma that the Government and security services face in the fight against terrorism. Unfortunately, I was once again disappointed at the way in which the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) trivialised the debate and displayed what at best can be called a degree of naivety in dealing with the difficulties that face the security services in their fight against terrorism. I pay tribute to members of the security services who place themselves between the law-abiding community and those people who would bring murder and mayhem to our community.
I suppose that an example of the difficulties that the security services have was the bombing campaign in Belfast over the Christmas period. Business men and Christmas shoppers were held to ransom by the terrorists, and the imposition of security checks at the level necessary to prevent bombings was also a source of frustration to the community. Inevitably, it led at times to the community being less than sympathetic towards the job that the security services had to undertake.
It is important that sensible decisions are taken more quickly, and before the event. As to the Belfast bombing campaign, my right hon. Friend the Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Molyneaux) and I had numerous meetings prior to that campaign with the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. We told him that our information indicated that vast quantities of explosives were being brought across the frontier from the Irish Republic into west Belfast so that a campaign could be mounted.
We pressed privately and publicly for a couple of extra battalions to be deployed along the frontier, so that a degree of interdiction could occur. That advice was not heeded. We have two extra battalions now and we are glad to see them, but they were not made available in time.
The Government and the Ministry of Defence must give a greater commitment to the task confronting the security services. When reinforcement in the short term or medium term is required it should be available when requested --not after the event. It is important also that our cross-frontier checkpoints are properly manned. I shall refer to them in detail later. While there remains ineffective liaison and co-operation with the Irish Republic, we must look to our own frontier defences.
Column 391We are not helped by our own tourist board, which goes out of its way to criticise our frontier checkpoints--describing them as ugly, forbidding and an offputting experience for tourists. That is totally to misunderstand the need for the checkpoints, to proect those who live close to the frontier--as my constituents do--and to intercept arms and explosives coming from the Irish Republic in considerable quantities.
I do not need to remind the House that Libya supplied 150 tonnes of arms and explosives that were imported into the Irish Republic. They were dispersed throughout that jurisdication, and are now brought across as required to enable terrorists to wreak havoc on our community. I suppose that I can expect little else from the Northern Ireland tourist board than criticism of the checkpoints given that it sees the conflict as a curiosity factor that could be positively harnessed to encourage people to visit Northern Ireland. I hope that the Secretary of State and his Ministers will pay more heed to the ordinary people, who for 20 years have withstood the onslaught of terrorism, than to those who sit in ivory towers and who believe that some 5 per cent. of abnormal people should be catered for in the tourist programme. I do not know what the tourist board's ideas do for the 95 per cent. of people who come to Northern Ireland for justifiable reasons.
I am worried because I read today that the Killeen checkpoint may be abandoned. I do not believe that it has been totally effective. For years, members of my party and I have argued that a checkpoint that can be driven around quite easily is ineffective. We have made official representations on that issue but we have not been heard. Instead of making amends for its shortcomings, we have heard the hint--it was perhaps only a fishing exercise to see how we would react--that the Killeen checkpoint may be closed. If that was a fishing exercise, I assure those responsible that we are not prepared to see the frontier opened up, with no checks against the importation of weapons and other illegal goods.
The purpose of permanent vehicle checkpoints needed to be re-examined, because for years and years we have argued that "permanent vehicle checkpoint" is the wrong name for such frontier posts. It suggests the wrong idea. I would prefer to call them permanent patrol bases, because to use them simply to prevent traffic moving backwards and forwards across the frontier is not enough. We must use them as jumping-off points for pre- emptive patrolling. Patrolling cannot take place 10 to 15 miles from the frontier, because that creates a no-man's-land, in which the terrorist dominates and in which he is able to lay land-mines and prepare ambushes. Those areas become more difficult to police.
Lord Colville referred to those actively involved in trying to open up unapproved roads that lie between the various monitored and official routes across the frontier. I am afraid that those people are able to operate because of the ineffective legislation in the Irish Republic. They approach closed roads from the Irish Republic with lorry-loads of stones, earth- moving equipment, diggers and bulldozers and, from there, they are able to reopen the crossings, thus providing more access points for the terrorists who murder and bomb in Northern Ireland.
Does the Secretary of State agree that most of the bombs exploded within 15 to 20 miles of the frontier had
Column 392been prepared in the Irish Republic? Again and again the vehicles involved are stolen in Clones, Dundalk or Sligo. Close to the frontier the campaign is directed from the Irish Republic, but the weapons and explosives used in Belfast also come from the Irish Republic, from as far away as Limerick. As Lord Colville says, there is no justification for saying that the closure of minor, or, as we call them, unapproved, roads greatly hinders farmers on both sides of the frontier. It may cause a small amount of difficulty. Lord Colville said that the diversion caused by the closure of Farellys crossing in my constituency was about 3 km.
Between 100 and 125 tonnes of Gaddafi's weaponry is still in the Irish Republic and somebody has to persuade the Government of that jurisdiction to do more to find that weaponry more quickly. In the interim, we must try to implement an effective means of interdiction close to the frontier. It is too late when the explosives wreak havoc in Belfast of Lurgan or other Northern Ireland towns.
The Government must concentrate not just on weapons ; they must investigate racketeering. I congratulate Customs and Excise, the police and the Army on their success to date and on the seizure in the past month of thousands of illegally copied videos and pornographic material. That has been a serious blow to the IRA's ability to finance itself. But not enough is being done to ensure that the finances of illegal organisations are cut much more quickly. I know that that is difficult.
Lord Colville says that with the single market there will not be the same rip-off with hydrocarbons, beers and spirits and other such products. But we are worried not just about illegal videos and pornographic material. Illegal substances such as clenbuterol, better known as angel dust, are widely used not just in Ireland but throughout Europe. In Ireland angel dust is profitable. I shall give the House an idea of how profitable it is. A cannister that is "wholesaled" for £40 will be passed on to the farmer for £120. That is a 300 per cent. profit. The farmer will be able to treat 10 animals with that amount of angel dust, and each animal will probably increase in value by between £100 and £150. There will be a profit of between £1,000 and £1,500 from the farmer's £120. Does anyone believe that a business that is more profitable than that of cocaine, so we are told, will be missed by the terrorist? The terrorist controls the market from the rest of Europe into Ireland and from South America into Ireland.
Sadly, I must find fault with the Department of Agriculture. In its desire not to harm the majority of good, decent farmers who are trying to make a living and produce good beef for the consumer, it sweeps the issue under the carpet at an early stage. I went to the Department and I was assured that its checks and balances were such that the use of clenbuterol could not be sustained. I was told that it would be detected but, unfortunately, that has proved not to be so. As a result, the terrorist is making great capital.
The Government fall down, as it were, when it comes to claims against the Royal Ulster Constabulary that are made by those who are taken in for interrogation. On being released, there are claims of ill-treatment, which constitute a real money-spinner. We reached the stage when a firm of solicitors, Madden and Finucane, to which I have referred in the House before, is able to boast on behalf of its clients about the vast sums that it has obtained
Column 393in compensation from the Northern Ireland Office without ever having to go to court. Out-of-court settlements are unforgivable. I am not sure whether the hon. Member for Newry and Mourne was worried about the description--I cannot remember it exactly--of the people of Northern Ireland as "litigious". In other words, it was said that they were keen to get into court. We saw examples of that for years when actions were brought against the road service authority. There was no obligation on anyone to lift his foot or to look where he was walking. Indeed, the exact opposite was the case. If someone thought that he could find a hole to fall into, he sought it diligently. There were estates where there was not one house in which someone had not been to court claiming damages because of a fall in the street.
Mr. Mallon : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. If the hon. Gentleman feels that it is necessary to refer to me again without giving me the right of reply, perhaps he will at least refer to my constituency correctly.
Mr. Maginnis : Claims resulting from the state of the road surface dropped dramatically when claimants were forced over the step and into the court to prove their case. Out-of-court settlements are a disaster.
It would be interesting if those claiming ill-treatment by the police were forced into court where they could be cross-examined. We would see some interesting people with some interesting connections in court. It might be a revelation.
One of the most surprising of all claims that were settled out of court was that made by the widow of Daniel Doherty. Daniel Doherty was shot in Londonderry as he approached a hospital there, armed and intent on killing a member of the security services. One fails to understand how his wife could be compensated for his death. I remind the House of the reply when I asked about the case. I was told :
"It is not the practice to publish details of police investigations. The death of Daniel Doherty was fully investigated by the RUC, and the report passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who directed no prosecution' of the soldiers involved.
However, I believe that it is widely accepted that Daniel Doherty was engaged in terrorist activities when he was killed."--[ Official Report , 16 December 1991 ; Vol. 201, c. 59 .]
The irony of that award to Daniel Doherty's widow is that the person who was attacked received no compensation, nor when he died prematurely did his widow. Where is the justice in that? The Secretary of State and his team must give some consideration to that. Justice is as much about ensuring that people who do not deserve do not get as about ensuring that people who do deserve receive what is rightly theirs.
The whole issue of answers in the House must be considered carefully. It is necessary that members of the community and Members of the House should know what