Northern Ireland

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st January 1972.

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Photo of Mr Merlyn Rees Mr Merlyn Rees , Leeds South 12:00 am, 31st January 1972

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that yesterday saw yet another tragic day for Ireland that will prove far more traumatic than was internment? May I express our sympathy with all the families of all the victims killed and injured, civilian and military, as a result of yesterday's events, and with the family of the soldier who died yesterday as a result of earlier events.

We welcome the inquiry, but it must be impartial, and it must be entirely judicial, to investigate what happened. Where did the fire come from? At the bar of world opinion it is important to know the facts. Without them there will be no progress in the talks. And, unlike with some of the other inquiries, there must be speed.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that we need also to know how it happened in the context of Government policy, as opposed to the events of yesterday? Was the decision to go into the Bogside a reaction to events, or was it the planned disposition of security forces? Who decided this? Was it the decision of the Joint Security Council? If so, was it with the full knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman and the Government?

I am aware that question and answer are not enough for this important topic, and I give notice that, at the proper time, I shall seek to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 and move a Motion that we should debate the situation in Northern Ireland as soon as possible.