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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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Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan Conservative, Blaby 9:15 pm, 8th February 2000

I shall not detain the House long, because I merely wish to speak briefly in support of amendment No. 20. I notice Ministers muttering on the Treasury Bench, but perhaps they should consider more fully the implications of what they are doing. The issue of the de Chastelain report is a question of confidence and trust. There can be no trust if we are not allowed to see the report. Perhaps the Minister can tell us whether it refers to the intention of the IRA and Sinn Fein to decommission. We are being asked to legislate without knowing what on earth the report says, but that is leaping hopefully in the dark.

The Secretary of State said on Second Reading that there is no body of opinion in the nationalist community that is opposed to decommissioning. So can the Minister tell us what was in the report? Was there anything to suggest that a body of opinion in the nationalist community—that must include everybody in the nationalist community—is opposed to decommissioning?

If Sinn Fein is inextricably linked to the IRA, we must know about Real Sinn Fein, Continuity Sinn Fein and all the other splinter groups. They were in the IRA about two and a half years ago. Are they really so different? Does the Minister have any information—is there any in the de Chastelain report—about such groups as Real Sinn Fein and their links with the rest of the Provisional IRA? It is as certain as it could be that the leadership of the IRA and of Sinn Fein know who is in Real IRA because they used to have an organisation that included them. That relates also to the prosecution of the Omagh bombers, of whom only one has so far been arrested. Does the report say anything about that? It has been alleged that two Members of this House, Mr. Adams and Mr. McGuinness—not yet hon. Members, because they have not taken the oath—may know who these people are. Have they helped in any way in the prosecution of the Omagh bombers?

We need to see that report so that we can make a judgment on behalf of the people of the United Kingdom. We do not trust Ministers to make it for us.