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Northern Ireland

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th April 1970.

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Photo of Mr Rafton Pounder Mr Rafton Pounder , Belfast South 12:00 am, 7th April 1970

I am indebted to the Home Secretary for his assurance. I was on the interview floor, writing that passage of my speech at about ten minutes to three. I am indebted to him for clarifying the point in clear and unmistakable language.

Quite apart from the violence, the effect on the economy of Northern Ireland of recent events is bound to be adverse and the full impact will not be felt for some years. Suffice it to say that the effect on the developing tourist trade, which is worth nearly £30 million annually to the economy, has undoubtedly been severe. This is nothing short of tragic. There is likewise the effect of recent events, and the publicity which has flowed from them, on industrial development, which is bound also to be adverse. Again, I do not think that the impact will be felt for some time.

Another casualty has been community relations, which were improving and which undoubtedly have received a substantial setback during recent months. By whatever yardstick of measurement, therefore, which one uses, be it economic, social, community, or anything else, there is no doubt that a very dear price has been paid in Ulster for the events of recent months.

It is noteworthy that in today's Daily Telegraph, Professor Sidney Hook, Professor of Philosophy at New York University, is quoted as saying: Whoever anticipates that violence will strengthen the influence of moderates and expedite reform is taking a foolish risk, a criminally irresponsible risk… It narrows the options, destroys the centre and polarises the community into extremes. A great deal has been said in this House and written in the Press about the fears of the minority in Northern Ireland, but, make no mistake about it, the Protestant majority also has genuine fears which must be realised and understood, For the past 50 years, both communities have shared in the economic progress which has been made—a progress which, in my view, would not have been made if Northern Ireland had been part of the Republic of Ireland. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is not true."] It is hard economic fact. It is not a belief which can be destroyed by propaganda.