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 Lord Mayhew of Twysden Lord Mayhew of Twysden Conservative 10:41 pm, 8th November 2000

My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord sits down--I do not know whether I have to employ that strategy more than I am allowed at this point in order to make a speech--does he consider that the concept of inclusivity properly extends to including the confidence of those who serve in the police service of Northern Ireland? If he does, can he imagine the consequence for officers who expose themselves daily to the risks that have been recited so often in this House? Can he imagine the effect on their confidence of having as participants in the board people who have committed the type of scheduled offence with which we are concerned?

It sounds clinical and almost consoling to speak of the offence as "scheduled". I know that it is rather bad form to recite incidents that have occurred. However, I believe that in order to inject a sense of realism it is necessary to recite one or two such incidents from people's experience. I recognise that my own experience is minuscule compared with that of many people who have lived in Northern Ireland. Perhaps I may take one example from either side of the community.

I was present at the Heights Bar in Loughinisland a few hours after a terrible massacre had taken place of people who were watching a football match. It was perpetrated by so-called loyalists. They sprayed the bar and killed seven people, including Mr Barney Green, aged 82. The floor was covered with what appeared to be treacle, but of course it was not; it was the blood of Mr Barney Green and various other people.

I take an episode from the other side. An RUC officer, PC Paul Slane, had both legs removed and an arm seriously injured by an IRA rocket installed in the roadside. The female police officer next to him was killed. That man survived and continues to serve in the RUC.

How can members of the RUC be expected to have confidence in arrangements which include on the board people who have perpetrated, no matter how long ago, that type of outrage? That is what I ask the Government to consider. It really is necessary to move away from the nice, clinical language of scheduled offences into the reality of life and death.