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Ending Suspension

Part of Orders of the Day — Northern Ireland Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:37 pm on 8th February 2000.

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Photo of Mr William Thompson Mr William Thompson UUP, West Tyrone 10:37 pm, 8th February 2000

Having lived in Northern Ireland all my life, I have listened in amazement to some of the speeches that have been made today. Many of those who have made speeches may have been well meaning, but they have shown that they do not know very much about Northern Ireland.

We have tried to press the Secretary of State on why he has not produced the de Chastelain document. I suggest that he is embarrassed to do so, because there is nothing in the document. The former Secretary of State and the Prime Minister assured us that there was a tremendous change happening in the IRA and that it would decommission. Indeed, we have heard this evening from the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady) that he expected to see decommissioning. Many reporters also expected to see decommissioning. The fact is that they have all—including the Government—been fooled by the IRA because it does not intend to give up any of its arms. It is an embarrassment to the Government to have to acknowledge that, especially to the Prime Minister.

We have listened to many speeches in praise of the wonderful Assembly and all the good things that are supposed to be happening in Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State waxed so eloquent on the subject that he was carried away by his own enthusiasm, oratory and spin doctoring. Then he had to tell us that the situation was on the brink of disaster and that it no longer had the support of the Unionist community, which it does not. He also told us that a crisis would develop at the weekend unless he took action. He told us that if the leader of the Ulster Unionist party resigned, the whole thing would collapse. He said that there could be another election, but that would be a disaster because a majority would not be returned supporting the agreement, so the only alternative was to suspend the agreement.

Thirdly, as the Secretary of State spoke from the Dispatch Box this evening, I noticed the change of tone from last week, when he told us that Sinn Fein had betrayed the Ulster Unionist people and the people of Ulster by not decommissioning. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman talked about all the people of Ireland, in fact.