Amendment 116

Part of Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill - Committee (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 9:15 pm on 29 March 2023.

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Photo of Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee Non-affiliated 9:15, 29 March 2023

My Lords, I rise briefly to support the amendments in this group. As someone who, like others in this Chamber, has been the victim of terrorism, it really galls me to see people who for a number of years did not do this—I think the fact that they left a space between the end of the violence and now is quite deliberate—and are now encouraging and romanticising what happened during those dark days of what are euphemistically called the Troubles.

It is really chilling that, today, in Omagh—the place where Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell was gunned down—there are stickers appearing to encourage young people to join up. I find it so chilling, but that is the inevitable consequence of glorifying something that these young people have no knowledge of. They think it is the thing to do to show their loyalty to Ireland. The people who are encouraging this have a terrible responsibility on their heads, but they will continue to do it unless there is an indicator from government that it is wrong.

I hope the Minister will take on board the comments that have been made today. This is about reconciliation. For a period after the Belfast agreement, there was a genuine attempt to engage in reconciliation, but not recently. I have had it said to me—as everyone in this House knows—right to my face, about “Up the Ra” and what have you. Nowadays, there is a casual attitude to those sorts of statements. There is, as my noble friend Lord Weir said, a normalisation of those statements. Therefore, the Government need to send a very clear message that this is wrong and will not be tolerated, and that we are looking out for all the young people in Northern Ireland to keep them safe from this sort of behaviour.