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Ending Suspension

Part of Orders of the Day — Northern Ireland Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:15 pm on 8th February 2000.

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It has already been said that we are here tonight because of the failure of the IRA to decommission and to surrender its weapons to lawful authority in Northern Ireland or in the Irish Republic, and for that reason we should have sight of the de Chastelain reports—both the one that has been completed and any future reports. That is the key. If people could see the report, the debate today would be far more sensible. People would know exactly where they stood and we would not have had all the spin doctoring and the smoke and mirrors of the past week. The lack of precision, the double meaning, the ambiguity, and the nods and winks giving the impression that something is happening when nothing is happening, have been the root cause of the suspicion and anger that we have had in Northern Ireland for so long.
I tell Ministers—not that I expect them to take it on board, but I tell them anyway—that the mere fact that they refuse to publish the de Chastelain report only adds to the anger and suspicion, and makes any settlement far more difficult. It may be that, because Ministers live in the rarefied world of spin doctoring that so many in the House now inhabit, they are incapable of understanding the effect of the refusal to release the report on ordinary men and women in Northern Ireland, but the effect is real and the report should be published.