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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 Mr William Thompson Mr William Thompson UUP, West Tyrone 9:15 pm, 8th February 2000

Clause 2 provides that, after the Assembly is suspended and the Executive members lose their posts, a review has to take place. The review seems to be very limited, as it centres mainly on decommissioning—when it will take place, if it will take place, when weapons will start to be given up and when it will be completed. These matters have been debated on numerous occasions. As a result of understandings reached in the last review, it was assumed that they had been resolved. However, as we have come to see, they have not been resolved. It is unlikely that they will be resolved in any review—certainly not to the satisfaction of the Unionist community in Northern Ireland.

The review should be much wider, taking into account the changes that have taken place in the people of Northern Ireland and their views, especially in the Unionist community. For it is absolutely clear that the majority of people in the Unionist community no longer support the agreement.

We have always been told that any future Government of Northern Ireland and any future Assembly must have the support of the majority of both sides of the community. Support is obviously lacking on the Unionist side of the community. If support were lacking on the nationalist side, we would be told that a wide-ranging review would be needed. However, it seems not to matter when support no longer exists in the Unionist part of the community—it seems that we shall plod on anyway.

I implore Ministers to undertake a wide-ranging review that considers all the issues, rather than just decommissioning. We need a thorough review so that we may achieve proper administration for Northern Ireland that is democratic, accountable and supported by all the people.