Yes. I am disturbed that Ministers should have made statements to the House over a period of years about increasing co-operation. In fact, the Government have been very lavish with their praise. I do not know whether the Christmas spirit motivates Ministers every time they stand at the Dispatch Box, but their assurances appal the people of Northern Ireland.
I hope that the tragic incident involving Lewis Robinson will never be repeated, and that the Minister will give a strong assurance, which he will translate into action, that in future there will be a force adequate enough to take out those who would commit such a dastardly murder. To add to the remarks of the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth), the leader of the RUC federation had some strong comments to make in his annual address to the Northern Ireland Police Federation:
Mr. Beattie went on to describe the south as 'an open house to murderers, bombers and gunmen', and the Irish Government as 'lacking in political guts', and accused them of hiding behind an 'unpredictable' judicial system and the provisions of the 1987 Extradition Act which he described as 'ineffective'.
He said that rulings in cases like that of Father Ryan were `a calculated insult to the British judiciary and a blatant political pandering which betrayed an unwillingness to grasp the nettle of terrorism.'
Mr. Beattie also called on Mr. Haughey to intern terrorists if he wanted to deny them safe haven. He said such action would serve more purpose and be a lot more constructive than endless attacks on the UDR and the professionalism of the RUC.
I turn to the situation in Enniskillen and in South Fermanagh, which the Minister will know I have raised before in the House. I have in my hand a copy of The Impartial Reporter, which contains in its columns of public notices certain advertisements; and I will read one or two of them. One states:
Owing to a phone call we can no longer serve the security forces. Traynor's Cafe, Maguiresbridge.
That is a Roman Catholic establishment. Another advertisement was placed by W. J. Kennedy in Magheraveely, which is a Protestant establishment:
We wish to make it publicly known that we will no longer serve the security forces.
A third advertisement reads:
At the request of the Fermanagh Brigade of the Provisional IRA, I, Barry McCormack, Proprietor of Silver Dollar Take Aways in Lisnaskea and Irvinestown, will not be serving members of the Security Forces.
The Minister has personal knowledge of Northern Ireland and a good grasp of Irish history, so he will know that the boycott weapon has been used in the past to intimidate people. It seems that there is to be a dreadful revival of that technique. It is all very well for right hon. and hon. Members to sit in this Chamber, in the relative safety of this part of the United Kingdom, and to criticise people for reacting in that way, by placing such advertisements—but what are they to do? I have twin boys, and I know how my wife and I would feel if, living in such an isolated community, we received a phone call telling us, "If you want to see both your sons in a coffin, carry on serving the police and the Army in your premises. But if you want to keep your sons alive, put an advert in the local paper to say that you will not serve the security forces."
The people who criticise and condemn those who place such advertisements have never been in their position. If people who are threatened go to the police, they are told that the police can do nothing to guarantee that their sons will not be murdered. The owners of such businesses are forced to place advertisements of that kind if they are to protect their families. Some right hon. and hon. Members might say that they should stand up and be counted, but although I in no way advocate giving in to the IRA, I must tell them and others that they should first imagine themselves in a similar situation. Only then could they appreciate what we and those shop owners are up against.
It is important for us to realise that what has happened on the border—the closing down of Army checkpoints overnight—has left Protestant families in a Government-created no-man's land. These people are simply terrified. I have talked to them, and they know not what to do. They are officially shut out from their own country for the period of darkness—the very time when the terrorists strike.
I trust that the Under-Secretary can give us some assurance today that the Government have taken this matter on board. I know that he is not able to tell us—nor do we want to know—the strategy that the security forces are adopting: that would pre-empt the effectiveness of such a strategy. However, I want a categorical assurance from the hon. Gentleman today.
The rubbish spoken by ecumenical prelates, including the new RC Archbishop of Armagh, will not bring a settlement from IRA terrorists. I find it grievously insulting to Protestant politicians when, on the numerous occasions that we pleaded with the clerical gentleman to talk to us—we said, "Please come and talk to us"—he said, "No, I will not talk to you." Yet before the world he insidiously trounced Protestant politicians and said that politicians should be talking.
I will talk to the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh any day that he wants to come to me, as the representative of the whole of Northern Ireland in Europe. I shall be prepared to meet him—he is a constituent of mine—and I am prepared to listen to what he has to say and to tell him what I feel.
I know that the Minister was listening to the prelate recently, as was the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis). I do not know whether they benefited from the worship of the Virgin Mary in that programme. I would certainly not benefit from it. However, in politics we need to ensure that we do not act hypocritically.