Police (Northern Ireland) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:41 pm on 8th November 2000.

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Photo of Viscount Brookeborough Viscount Brookeborough Crossbench 10:41 pm, 8th November 2000

My Lords, I support the amendments. What the law-abiding citizens of Northern Ireland are being asked to put up with is unbelievable. The police are prepared in the course of their day-to-day duty to get injured in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Laird, described or to lay down their lives for the safety of the people of Northern Ireland or of any one of us who travels there. We are asking them to accept that their rules and regulations can be laid down not just by people who have committed a normal crime, but by those who have been convicted of the most heinous crimes. That beggars belief. I cannot imagine what we are up to. It is staggering.

The Government say that they want participation from both sides of the community, but do they honestly believe that they have to go into the criminal sectors on both sides to get it? If they believe that, they should go to Northern Ireland and see. Are they saying that they cannot find a decent Protestant or a decent Roman Catholic without picking up one of those who have been involved in the criminal activities of the past 30 years? We are talking about the type of person who killed one of my soldiers, hitting him in the front of a school bus full of children, chasing him to the back and blowing his brains out over the children--and he went away down the road cheering. We may know who he was but we cannot convict him. He cannot be said to have suffered battlefield stress from being in a so-called war. He went away and celebrated with his friends all night.

I cannot imagine which way we are going. The Government have taken away the police's badge, their uniform, everything, and now they are prepared to put hardened criminals into decision-making positions. They insult the Roman Catholic population. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, is not here, because he could say this 10,000 times better than I can. He is proud of being a Roman Catholic and I am very proud to have known and served with some excellent Roman Catholic police officers who have done their best and sacrificed their family life and their whole social being. It might be argued that it is fair enough that we have let these criminals out, but we cannot put them on the Policing Board. I wholly support the amendments and I am horrified by the way in which it looks as if we are going.