Amendment 116

Part of Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill - Committee (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 8:57 pm on 29 March 2023.

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Photo of Viscount Brookeborough Viscount Brookeborough Crossbench 8:57, 29 March 2023

My Lords, I support these amendments and I support what the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, just said about children. Children are the future for Northern Ireland, and integrated education and more understanding between the communities are all-important. This form of glorification is directly appealing to them. The integrated schools are fine. We are also moving into joint campuses—or I hope we are. In my local village of Brookeborough, they currently do one day of joint education between the Catholic maintained school and the state primary school. Half the school goes each way; I happened to go and visit it the other day. It was really good and the children were really enjoying it; it was fantastic. Another school further up the country was meant to be on the list but has been taken off the list because it was not doing joint education before and the parents all objected. The key is that integrating schools is by choice. The future is that these schools will be integrated because that is the only place they will have to go to school, but all this glorification—these songs and everything else—is in direct conflict with that.

I was speaking to a principal who said that a few years ago she wanted to introduce Gaelic football to the state primary school, which was a good thing. However, an incident like this happened on the day they were going to do it for the first time; half the parents walked in, removed their children for the day and said, “We are not doing it”. It is not just the victims and their families getting humiliated by these songs and other things, which is bad enough. It is the future, and if we allow this to go on and it becomes a lovely thing to do, to sing those songs outside a school or close to children whose grandparents may have been killed—uncles, aunts, whatever—this is really important. We must not look at it as something that is acceptable. It would be totally unacceptable if somebody who supported ISIS went to Borough Market and shouted “Up ISIS” or whatever. Straightaway, in this country, they would be landed on and would not get away. With us, we accept it, but this is about our future and the children. It is with the primary schoolchildren that it has to start. We should support these amendments.