May I preface my question to the Prime Minister by stating my passionate dedication to reconciliation between the two sections of our community in Northern Ireland and between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic? But the Prime Minister will understand—the Leader of the Opposition referred to this—that many have died over 26 years of terrorism in Northern Ireland. My mind goes out to all those who have been murdered by the terrorists, men who now pose as peacemakers.
With regard to the last Northern Ireland Assembly, my right hon. Friend gave the date as 1972. The last Northern Ireland Assembly lasted from 1982 to 1986, when it was brought to an end by the Anglo-Irish Agreement. I was the Speaker of that Assembly. It was my regret that the SDLP and other nationalists boycotted that Assembly, which was, in fact, a good basis for political progress in Northern Ireland. If that had not happened in 1982 to 1986, imagine just where we would be today.
I ask my right hon. Friend to bear in mind that the surest foundation for political progress in Northern Ireland, as indeed anywhere else in the world, is trust and good will as well as consent. Will he therefore consider the establishment of another Assembly as soon as possible, without all the details to which I see reference in the document, which would allow elected representatives to get together, to get to know each other and to work out their own problems? As a matter of good will—I believe that that exists today in Northern Ireland—they could develop good relations with their opposite numbers in the Dublin Parliament.