Amendment 116

Part of Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill - Committee (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 9:30 pm on 29 March 2023.

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Photo of Baroness Hoey Baroness Hoey Non-affiliated 9:30, 29 March 2023

I rise very briefly to say that I do not think anyone could not support the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, and indeed all the amendments in this group. We should all abhor the glorification of terrorism, but we have to recognise that it has sometimes come about because of a longer period of sanitising terrorism. As a society in Northern Ireland, we have accepted unrepentant terrorists being able to end up on the Policing Board and other agencies within government. If unrepentant terrorists are given or can achieve such positions, that sends a message out. I understand why this is, given the way our system works in Northern Ireland, but it does not help in telling young people that there is something wrong with terrorism if you can end up in such a position, or in government, without having in any way repented, or said that what happened was wrong, or condemned it.

One other thing which may come up later, either tonight or another time, is that through the definition of a victim in Northern Ireland, we have somehow also sanitised terrorism. The definition of a victim in Northern Ireland can be someone who perpetrated an act and put the bomb wherever it went off. That is just not acceptable. They would not be seen as a victim in the rest of the United Kingdom. So, we have to look ourselves at some ways that we have actually helped to get to a situation where young people now feel that there is absolutely nothing wrong in chanting and singing support for the IRA. Indeed, the First Minister herself said that there was no alternative, and we have then had the threat level going up this week. We have to think that there might be some kind of effect there, with people thinking, “Well, clearly there was no alternative then, so there is obviously still no alternative”. Therefore, we have actually encouraged the sanitisation of terrorism.

I will say one mild thing to my noble friend Lord Brookeborough. Yes, integrated schools are fine, but do not let us go away with this idea that somehow state grammar or secondary schools are not doing their bit. For example, at the state grammar school I went to, Belfast Royal Academy, now nearly 40% of the young people are from a Catholic background. When I was there, there were hardly any young people from Catholic backgrounds but there were a large number of people from a Jewish background. Unfortunately, many of the Jewish people in Northern Ireland left and we have a very small Jewish community now. This idea that a Catholic in a certain area is stopped from going to a state school is just wrong. We have to say that the Catholic Church has a lot to do with this; I do not think there is any point in trying to ignore that. Therefore, integrated schools are fine, but they are much better if they come naturally.