Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th January 1989.

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Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 12:00 am, 12th January 1989

No, I confirm that there is no question of searches being made on a random basis. They are made only when there is good reason to relieve that there is cause for concern. Recently I received a complaint about the searching of a number of houses in west Belfast. Unfortunately, it was necessary to search 43 houses, but seven hides were found in them. In five of those hides nine mortars, 1,500 rounds of ammunition and 400 lbs. of home-made explosives were discovered. I make no apology for those searches. If they will save a grandfather and granddaughter going home from bingo from being mutilated and being blown clean across the road and into a nearby field they will continue to be made.

What is absolutely outrageous—I agree with the hon. Gentleman—is that innocent people are having their homes uprooted because evil men are intimidating and threatening them and forcing them to hide explosives and weapons in their houses. That is what is outrageous, and the House must stand as one against such practices.