Exclusion of Sinn Féin

– in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:00 pm on 4th July 2000.

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Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker 2:00 pm, 4th July 2000

I want to remind Members of the timings allowed for this debate. Dr Paisley will be entitled to up to one hour to move the motion, and a Member of Sinn Féin will be permitted up to one hour to respond. Following this, the Floor will be opened up to any Member who will be allowed to speak for up to 10 minutes. When all Members who wish to speak have done so, or the arguments have been exhaustively presented, I will allow a Member of Sinn Féin up to 30 minutes to respond, and either of the proposers —Dr Paisley and Mr Robinson —30 minutes to wind up.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

I beg to move

That, in consequence of the failure of the Provisional IRA to offer up its illegal weaponry for destruction, its continuing threat, and pursuit, of terrorist outrages to secure its aims, its maintenance of an active terrorist organisation, its continuing engagement in murder and other acts of violence, and the fact that it is inextricably linked to Sinn Féin, this Assembly resolves that Sinn Féin does not enjoy its confidence because it is not committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful means, and further, in accordance with section 30 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, determines that members of Sinn Féin shall be excluded from holding office as Ministers for a period of 12 months from the date of this resolution.

Last Friday evening I attended the Lord Mayor’s installation dinner in the city hall. A speech was made by Mrs Pearl Marshall, the mother of a police officer who was brutally gunned down and murdered by the IRA. During her speech Mrs Marshall asked a question that is central to this debate: "How can those who did these evil deeds be in Government without saying ‘Sorry’ and without bringing forth the fruits of repentance?". This is a question that is upon the lips of every decent person in this Province. How can the front leaders of armed terrorists have a place in democratic Government? Who would have thought that the day would ever come when this House would have to debate whether there is a place for armed terrorists in the Government of Northern Ireland?

It is a sad indictment of this institution that after two years, today is the first opportunity we have had to debate this crucial issue. This is a matter that goes to the heart of the establishment of Government in Northern Ireland, and yet it is being debated only now. Every trick in the book has been used to prevent this debate, but those attempts have failed, and we are having a debate that the enemies of democracy attempted to prevent.

Today we are told that many will boycott this debate. This Assembly meets against the background of disturbances over the denial of the right of Orangemen to return from their church service to their homes.

The root cause of these disturbances goes to the very heart of the question that we are discussing today. Who planned these disturbances? Who organised them, and who is responsible for the violence that initiated them? The answer is IRA/Sinn Feín. It was Mr Gerry Adams who declared on RTE

"Ask any activist in the North, did Drumcree happen by accident, and they will tell you no. Three years of work on the lower Ormeau Road, Portadown, in parts of Fermanagh and Newry, Armagh and in Bellaghy and up in Derry. These three years work went into creating that situation. Fair play to those people who have put the work in. These are the types of scene changes that we have to focus in on and develop and exploit."

Sinn Feín/IRA has deliberately orchestrated communal tension in Northern Ireland. They have used violence, and the threat of violence, to stir up violence around the issue of parades. This violence in the communities across our Province has held the people to ransom for the last five years. Northern Ireland has been changed, brutalised and defaced by this orchestrated violence and all the threats associated with it. The people of Northern Ireland have been wrongly blamed for this violence. The people are being punished because of the violence and threat of violence by the IRA. The Orange Order is being publicly punished and abused because of this deliberate violence by the IRA.

This Assembly and Government was created on the basis of a number of key promises made in the handwriting of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair. The House will recall that he visited the Province during the debate on the referenda on the Belfast Agreement. At Coleraine, he made a number of personal pledges to the Unionist people concerning the interpretation of the meaning of the Belfast Agreement. The consistent feature of Tony Blair’s involvement in the referenda debate was one of "promises making" which resulted in "promises breaking." Could I remind the House that the Prime Minister said that those who use or threaten violence shall be excluded from the Government of Northern Ireland. Writing in the ‘Belfast Telegraph’ on 22 May, he said

"I give my word, and I will keep it. There will be no fudge between democracy and terror. Only those who have given up violence for good can play a part in the democratic future of Northern Ireland."

What have the people of Ulster done to deserve such a despicable act of treachery from the Prime Minister? Why does he insist on turning the principles of democracy on their head in order to accommodate organised murderous thuggery? Have the vast majority of the people of this Province been unfaithful? Have they been lawbreakers? Have they been disloyal? Have they spoken treachery? Loyal people of Ulster do not deserve this treatment. They have been loyal, true, upright and law abiding. For three decades many of them have suffered the most serious woundings and bereavements. They have also suffered the most vicious Republican violence and the lying propaganda that goes with it. They have not retaliated. All they have asked for are equal rights, equal treatment and equal freedom. Today we are to see democracy destroyed, our freedom spoiled and our rights denied.

The power of the IRA has now become a legitimate tool in the Executive of our country. Ministers will not rely on mandates but on murderers who are armed and ready to kill. It will not have gone unnoticed in the House that a Member representing the East Londonderry constituency has today put her name to this motion on the exclusion of IRA/Sinn Féin. I would like to thank Pauline Armitage for that.

This is not just a DUP motion — examine the signatures. All the Unionist parties in the House have put their names to it, including some who are members of the Official Unionist Party. Indeed, I thank all those Members from a broad spectrum of Unionism who are supporting this motion. We are sending out a certain and united voice across this Province that we love: on this great issue of whether those representing terrorists in Northern Ireland should be in or out of government there are more Unionists elected to the House who say "No — they should not be in the Government of Northern Ireland" then say they should.

If the boot were on the other foot, if the Nationalist community were so divided and, indeed, if a majority of its elected representatives were to voice its opposition to the operation of such a political process we all know that the Government would listen and respond to it and bow to the wishes of the majority. I expect any democratic Government sitting in the Mother of Parliaments to listen to the majority of Unionists this day. I appeal to them no matter what way this vote goes to listen to the majority of Unionists. Northern Ireland can never be at ease with itself when the majority community is so uneasy about the operation of the political institutions. That is a fact that they must face up to. I know that the Government want to close their eyes to it.

The last time I spoke to the Prime Minister he had the brazen audacity to tell me that he had broken none of his pledges. I read them over to him, and he still maintained that he had broken none of them. A Prime Minister who can say that to an elected representative from Northern Ireland would say anything. The Government can and, indeed, today will blacken the name of us who take a stand this day in the House, but they do that at their peril.

They should realise that there is a scurry across Ulster, a massive resistance and resentment to the operation of a process that insults our honoured dead and pours scorn on the very principles of the democratic process.

Today is a defining moment, not only in the Assembly, but for the Unionist people and democracy itself. Does this Assembly want Northern Ireland to be plagued forever with the scourge of terrorists at the heart of its Government, conning itself that some form of words or some sleight of hand will be enough to convince people that the decommissioning issue has been satisfactorily addressed?

The Official Unionists’ defence spokesman has said he is satisfied with what has happened with the IRA bunkers. Think of it — the bunkers have now been given special status, immune from search by the authorities in charge of the security of the country in which they are, and Unionism’s spokesman is saying that those bunkers’ being firmly under IRA control satisfies him on the question of decommissioning.

Today is decision day for the Assembly. To Unionist representatives, I say that their actions today will be interpreted farther afield than in this Chamber. They will find no hiding place. Abstention is not an option; they will have to vote for or against this motion, or else explain to the Ulster people their reluctance to do so. Today the hour to be counted has come.

I refer to the motion and remind the House that

"this Assembly resolves that Sinn Féin does not enjoy its confidence because it is not committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful means".

If you do not vote for that, what are you saying? You are saying the Assembly does indeed give its confidence to IRA/Sinn Féin and believes it to be committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful means. Today there is no room for neutrality in this struggle.

There is only one way for Unionists to register opposition to having the representatives of armed terror in Government, and that is to vote for this exclusion motion. Failing to do so, whether by abstention or by voting against, will send a clear message to the Unionist community that those Unionists led by Mr Trimble support Sinn Féin/IRA’s being in the Government of Northern Ireland. There will never be a clearer choice between terrorism and democracy, and there will never be a better chance in the history of this Province for us to register our views. Those Unionists who fail to support this motion can expect to face the wrath of an outraged Unionist community at the next election. This is a straightforward issue.

Do Unionists want to go on sharing power with an organisation which retains its terror capability and is at the moment directly engaged in terrorism?

The IRA has not finished its terror. No truer words were spoken than those of Gerry Adams at the City Hall:

"They haven’t gone away, you know."

There are those today who bear awful witness to that awful fact. There is no doubt that the IRA continues its terror though every effort is made to disguise what is going on, and there is a failure on the part of the media and the security forces to tell and rightly catalogue the ravages of terror.

I was talking to a security force man recently who told me that every night he takes his men out they are petrol bombed in Republican areas. These incidents never reach the press. The democratic process is diminished and treated with contempt by those who hold the very views that I am putting in the House today. Some of the people who hold these views talked not so long ago about no half-way house between Government and being engaged in terrorism, but now they have somersaulted. During the talks it was Dick Spring, the then Foreign Minister of the Irish Republic, who said that Sinn Féin/IRA could not be in Government by day and in terror by night.

The Deputy First Minister, who has just left the Chamber, announced at a recent party conference that he would "take on" the men of violence if they dared to think that they could have terror and democracy together, and he threatened what he would do with those who continued to be engaged in terrorism. Those were great words. They sounded well, but they have all been proved to be useless and as worthless as the promises of the Prime Minister.

The Nationalists’ representatives here have a duty to the wider public as well. They can stick with their close relationship with IRA/Sinn Féin. The SDLP can keep the IRA in Government if that is what its members wish. But just let them stop and ask themselves what sort of message that sends to the Unionist people. Their support for IRA/Sinn Féin fuels the view that the SDLP has advanced on the back of IRA terror and is now so inextricably linked to that organisation that they cannot free themselves or act independently of it. If the SDLP Members have genuine concern, as they tell us they have, for the Unionist people, for their neighbours and for the democratic process, they would surely exclude Republican terrorist representatives from Government.

We are told that this debate is taking place in the shadow of our glorious political development. That is the latest IRA statement. The searching of secret IRA arms dumps by international observers is nothing more than a worthless stunt, a further attempt to gull the community and present mass killers as peacemakers. What does that latest IRA statement reveal?

First, it reveals that the IRA possesses a lot of illegal weapons. Secondly, they are under the total control of the IRA. Thirdly, two people, one of whom spoke at an IRA rally in west Belfast, have been allowed to see a small portion of these weapons but are unable to reveal their location. Does this build up any confidence at all in the right-thinking people of this Province, having experienced in their own bodies and their homes the violence of those who control these bunkers? The concerns of the community I represent need to be assuaged, and these bunkers do nothing to convince me, or my constituents, that we should put confidence in the IRA’s good intentions.

Mr Coulter and Mr Leslie, Official Unionist Members of the Assembly, sent a letter to council delegates:

"We believe the commitment by the IRA to put arms beyond use."

"We believe" it, they said.

"The IRA statement contains a much stronger commitment to decommission than anything said by the IRA or their Sinn Féin mouthpiece."

I am amazed, considering where these gentlemen live. How can they breathe good north Antrim fresh air and still make such a statement? It is up to the Ulster Unionist Party to keep the pressure on them until they have completed the transition from terrorism to peace and democracy.

However, there is an admission here that they have not. They are not even on the road to peace and democracy. If they were, would they want bunkers or to retain their murder weapons and arsenals? Here we have an admission that an undemocratic party is in government; that the purpose of being in government is to achieve a change of heart. They are saying "We must work and put pressure on them to convert them, but we will give them the prize of office first and then we can buy them into democracy." This is rewarding Sinn Féin before they deserve, or are entitled to, such an award. This is simply blackmail.

IRA/Sinn Féin do not deserve to be in government. They must change and, if they say and continue to say "We are not changing", then they must be rejected by all constitutionalists and by all who believe in democracy. It is not up to the democratic process to change all the rules in the book in order to accommodate terrorists. It is up to the terrorists to stop their terrorising, to give up the means of terror, to be like any other party.

Sinn Féin’s failure to follow these rules makes their place in the Government totally unacceptable. No amount of explaining or defining by the Ulster Unionist Party can change the reality of the stark fact that a fully armed terrorist organisation that pays lip-service to non-violent commitments is in the Government of Northern Ireland. That is immoral and a stop should be put to it.

The attitude of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister to this is amazing. The Deputy First Minister castigated my Friend yesterday for daring to ask a question. Yet the Minister of the Environment asked a question of Ministers on the other side, and nothing was said. And what about the IRA/Sinn Féin Ministers in the Executive? Did the Deputy First Minister stand up and rebuke them for their attitude to our national flag? Did he get up and denounce Mr McGuinness, who said that he would not tell the people who knew who carried out the Omagh bombing to tell the police? I did not hear any loud calls from either the First Minister or the Deputy First Minister, about that, none whatsoever. Yet they rebuked my Colleague because he asked simple question that he was entitled to ask. Even you, Sir, who have full control of the House and how it operates, admitted that, and admitted it freely.

There is no doubt that the IRA continues its crimes, and it is for this reason that its alter ego, Sinn Féin, cannot be permitted to continue in the Government. The crime that it is engaged in is not some minor petty crime that will soon wither on the vine. The IRA continues to be the most sophisticated and ruthless terror organisation in Europe and the western world. It is continually engaged in attacks in Northern Ireland. It possesses a massive weapons arsenal, part of which is now internationally protected, and it has international criminal links.

Currently, in the United States, a former FBI agent is on trial for supplying the IRA with weapons, over seven tonnes of them. If it is keen on decommissioning, what is it doing ordering seven tonnes of weapons in the United States of America? The IRA has not disbanded and has no intention of disbanding. The IRA exists because of the power of the gun. Members in the House who represent the IRA are here because of the power of the guns. It was not the ballot box that brought them, but the power of the gun behind the ballot box, the intimidation of voters, the printing of health cards and so on as was quite evident, and admitted by the Chief Electoral Officer when, at the last parliamentary election, one of their candidates was elected for Mid Ulster.

I have attended meetings with the Secretary of State, as have representatives from other parties, including the SDLP, and pointed out the breaches in electoral law. Has anything been done about it? Not a thing. I was told the other day by the Secretary of State that nothing would be done. The election to Westminster will go on under the same rules — nothing to be done. As I have said, the IRA has not disbanded and has no intention of disbanding. It exists because of the power of the gun, and it knows that if that power were taken away, it would be extinguished. That is why the Belfast Agreement got it wrong — it failed to realise that IRA/Sinn Féin is not like any other political party.

Today we have to decide, if we are going to continue to pull the wool over the people’s eyes, and continue with the lie that Sinn Féin/IRA Members are just like the rest of us when, in reality, they are terrorists, and terrorists continuing the job of terrorism. The IRA continues to be responsible for the most savage so-called punishment beatings taking place across Northern Ireland.

Since the start of this year, the IRA has shot 21 people and beaten 25 people in Northern Ireland. It is an organisation on cease-fire, whose arms, we are told have been put beyond use. Tell that to the victims of the IRA. The IRA has failed to offer up its illegal weaponry for destruction. It is a continuing threat in its pursuit of terrorist outrages to secure its aims as a terrorist organisation. Its continuing engagement in murder and other acts of violence, and its links to Sinn Féin, mean that Sinn Féin cannot enjoy the confidence of this House.

Let us examine what Sinn Féin/IRA has been doing at night, while Martin McGuinness and Barbara Brown are Ministers by day. Let me list what has happened this year.

Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 4th July 2000

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have noticed that every now and again Rev William McCrea holds up a small poster of me. I wonder whether it is an attempt to have himself elevated to the position of Cardinal by the DUP Pope in time for the south-west Antrim by-election?

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker

I again draw the attention of the House to my ruling. Aids of various kinds have been used in the Chamber from time to time, but they are all out of order. No aids, other than notes, may be used.

Photo of Nigel Dodds Nigel Dodds DUP

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. It might be appropriate to point out to the so-called Minister of Education that the constituency is called south Antrim, not south-west Antrim. Can he get it right?

Photo of Mr Pat McNamee Mr Pat McNamee Sinn Féin

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. May I point out that Mr McGuinness is not the so-called Minister of Education; he is indeed the Minister of Education.

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker

He certainly is. Of that there is no doubt. Dr Paisley, please continue.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

I shall be coming a little closer to Martin McGuinness in a moment. Let me list this catalogue to the House. On 7 February a man aged 23 was beaten with hammers in Downpatrick. On 25 February two Northern Ireland electricity workmen were beaten with iron bars in south Armagh. On 10 March a man aged 30 was shot in north Belfast. On 11 March a youth aged 16 was beaten in north Belfast. On 13 March, a man of 26 was beaten in Creggan. In Londonderry a man of 20 was shot in the ankle. A man of 24 was shot five times in his arms and legs in south Armagh. All those incidents — in Creggan, Londonderry, west Belfast and south Armagh — took place on 13 March. On 14 March a man aged 20 was shot in Strabane. On 15 March a youth of 17 was shot in east Belfast. On 1 April a man of 20 was shot in both ankles in west Belfast. On 2 April a man of 22 was shot in both legs in north Belfast. On 3 April a youth of 19 was shot in both legs, and a man of 26 was shot in both ankles in west Belfast. On 4 April a man of 45 was beaten and stabbed in north Belfast. On 7 April a youth of 18 and a man of 20 were beaten in west Belfast. On 8 April a man of 26 was shot in both feet in north Belfast

On 9 April a youth of 19 was shot in both legs in west Belfast, while a man was shot in the leg in west Belfast. On 11 April a man of 23 was shot in Toomebridge, County Antrim. On 16 April a youth of 17 was shot in both feet in west Belfast. On 24 April a youth of 17 was beaten in north Belfast. On 25 April a youth of 16 was beaten and slashed in west Belfast, and a youth of 19 was beaten and slashed by the same gang. On 26 April a man of 20 was beaten in north Belfast and a man of 30 beaten and lacerated in Downpatrick. On 2 May five families were intimidated from their homes in west Belfast. On 4 May a man of 25 was shot five times in the legs and arms in Dungannon, County Tyrone.

On 5 May a man of 41 was beaten and shot in Dungannon. On 6 May a man of 37 was shot in both legs in west Belfast, a man of 42 shot in the legs in west Belfast, a man of 24 shot three times and beaten in south Armagh and a youth of 19 was beaten and had his legs broken in north Belfast. On 10 May a man of 23 was beaten and had his arms and legs broken in west Belfast. On 15 May two youths aged 19 and a man of 29 were beaten in south Armagh. On 25 May a man of 64 was beaten in Strabane, County Tyrone. On 30 May two men, aged 23 and 22, were beaten with pickaxes and hammers in Dundalk. Two weeks ago a bomb exploded in Ballymurphy in west Belfast. The RUC has linked this explosion to the Provisional IRA.

Not one word of condemnation by Sinn Féin/IRA has followed these attacks. These attacks have been identified by the police as the work of Provos. What is more, on Saturday 28 May, the evening when the Ulster Unionist Party council voted to put Sinn Féin back in to Government, Edmund McCoy was shot dead by two close associates of Gerry Kelly, who is a Member of the House. The murder was sanctioned by the Provisional IRA officer commanding, who specialises in extorting protection money from drug dealers. McCoy was the twelfth drug dealer shot by the IRA since their first ceasefire in 1994.

In case anyone would ask why I do not list the shootings and attempted killings and so on by those on the other side of the fence, let me say before the House that I condemn them as rigorously as I condemn those I have listed. The difference is that those on the other side are not in the Government of Northern Ireland. We are dealing with those in the Government of Northern Ireland. Let us not drag red herrings into this debate. Let us deal with the fact that we are dealing with those in Government in Northern Ireland.

The decision of the Ulster Unionist Party to accept that the IRA had put guns beyond use evidently does not apply to these IRA people murdering their fellow Roman Catholics. The Ulster Unionist council, its leader and the Secretary of State, who actively encouraged the people to accept the word of the IRA, must shoulder some of the blame for what has happened. Those people are told that the IRA’s war is over, and yet this horrible list of people shows that the IRA war is not over. It is ludicrous to have two Sinn Féin/IRA Ministers by day while the IRA terrorises and kills by night.

Let me talk for a moment about the referendum communication that was sent out by the Ulster Unionist Party. It had some questions, such as

"Will paramilitaries be allowed to sit in the Northern Ireland Government?"


"No. The UUP will not serve with any party which refuses to commit itself by word and deed to exclusively peaceful and non-violent means. It is a fact that the Agreement says only those who have renounced violence will be allowed to exercise powers in any future Ulster Government. We will hold Tony Blair and other parties to their obligation on this issue."

I do not need to make any comment on that. I think that it is very sad when a section of the Unionist party goes to the people of Northern Ireland and makes that promise and then turns its back on that promise.

The Official Unionist Party has failed on both counts. It was wrong to tell the people of Northern Ireland that IRA/Sinn Féin would not be in Government. The agreement was to put them into Government. The Ulster Unionist Party has also failed the Unionist people in its promise that it would hold Blair and others to this commitment. That was beyond its strength, for it could not achieve that. The Official Unionist Party asked the Unionist people to support the agreement under these false pretences.

In the same document the UUP asked

"Will a ‘yes’ vote undermine our flag and culture?"

The answer is "No". Yet, on the buildings in the Stormont estate, under orders of the IRA/Sinn Féin Minister of Health, the Union flag was not flown. We know also that in the education building, under the other IRA/Sinn Féin Minister, it was not flown either. Yet the Official Unionists told the people that a "Yes" vote would not undermine our flag and culture.

Why is it, even today while we sit here, that the national flag does not fly over this Building, when in other parts of this United Kingdom the national flag flies over those buildings where the work of legislation for this United Kingdom is being done? Why is that? I am told that the Executive has taken a decision on this matter. We are back to the days of Judges, when all men do right in their own eyes, and so there will be no enforced decision on this issue.

On policing, this question was put by the Official Unionist Party in its referendum manifesto:

"Is a ‘yes’ vote a vote to scrap the RUC?"

The answer again was a massive lie:

"No … In the event of terrorism ending and any alterations made to the size of the RUC we will ensure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer takes into account the sacrifice of these brave men."

So when they are pensioned off, it will stand in the ranks and fight for their pensions. But the answer is "No".

We all know that this is not an issue for the Chancellor. We all know that it was the issue for Patten, and we know the result of Patten. Now they have got their Bill through the House. Mr McGrady has told us that they have won their battle on this Bill.

Some of us will see that Bill in the incoming week, and on 11 July, to add insult to injury to the people of Northern Ireland; they will ram it through the House of Commons. This is the way the present Government talk about preserving the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

I said I would come closer to Martin McGuinness before I finished. He may have run away, but he cannot run away from the Hegarty case in Londonderry — he cannot run away from that. A woman’s son was told to leave the country, as many people are told to do by the IRA.

The other side of the House wanted to attack my friend Dr McCrea in this House today. They did attack him — they tried to kill his wife, his family and himself — but they failed. No wonder they attack and abuse him verbally, because they attacked him with guns in an attempt to kill and wipe him out.

This woman — a mother with a mother’s heart and a mother’s love — wanted her son to come home. She went to Martin McGuinness and asked if he could come home. He said "Yes, but we will have to have a talk with him". She was fully assured that nothing would happen to her son. After he came home the IRA called with him, took him away and murdered him. I want to say in this House that a man who told a mother to bring her son home, in the knowledge that he was being brought home to his death, is not fit to be a member of the Government of Northern Ireland. That is why our motion today is clear. Sinn Féin does not enjoy the confidence of this House. It is not committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful means, and should be excluded. A man with the record of Mr McGuinness should be excluded from the House.

Not so long ago — and I referred to this a moment or two ago — Mr M McGuinness was on television, and he was asked about the awful bombing in Omagh. He was asked directly "if you knew people who knew the people that did this deed would you advise them to go immediately and inform the police?" He said "No". He said he would not do it. We have a member of the Government telling us that when an awful atrocity, like Omagh, is committed, as far as he is concerned, he would not advise those who could help the police catch the perpetrators of this awful crime to contact the police, yet we are told that this man should be in the Government of this country. Surely the Unionist Party cannot today seriously expect Unionists to endorse a Government that includes Ministers who will not abide by the rule of law, and who actively hinder the police in their attempts to catch so-called IRA dissidents.

It is disgusting to pressurise the people of Northern Ireland into accepting Sinn Féin in government when it has not decommissioned. I will not parade all the promises made by Mr Trimble on these issues — they fill a large piece of newsprint. Day after day, month after month, year after year he said, "We will not serve in government until there is decommissioning."

There has been no decommissioning. The IRA has handed in nothing. The IRA has protection for its weapons, and it is quite happy to have those weapons protected because it has plenty more that it can use that are not in bunkers and have not been put beyond use.

Those today who deny the truth of the things that I have been trying to say to the House fail to see what the effect of this will eventually be on the whole community. If the House gives the signal that violence pays, others will take to violence. If the House says that people can be violent, that they can murder, but that we will let them out before they serve their sentences, other people will take the road to violence. The message needs to be sent plainly and clearly — violence does not pay, and there are no seats in Government for violent men of blood. Not ever. There cannot be in a democracy.

I am amazed to hear Members telling us of the glories of the democracy of the European Union. I am not for the European Union. I am for the co-operation of sovereign states in Europe, but I am not for the incorporation of our country into a united Europe. Look at Europe. What happened in Austria? There was a leader there who did not take to the gun or arm his supporters. He got a sizeable vote and yet Europe refused to recognise him, saying that he was a Fascist. We have those in Northern Ireland who have done the very deeds of the bloodiest Fascists, and they have been forced into Government here. They are hypocrites in the European Union. I heard a Minister from Portugal praise the arrangements in Northern Ireland, yet he gave orders that no ambassador from the European Union was to talk to the ambassador from Austria.

They say that some of us in this House are extreme because we do not have conversations with or speak to Members of IRA/Sinn Féin. We are not as extreme as the British Government who cut off all relations with a country simply because they did not like the way in which the people of that country had voted.

Destruction of this Province is at stake. It is the triumph of Fascism which is the main objective; it is the burial of democracy which is being sought, it is the reign of terror that has become the objective. This is the final target.

As I draw my remarks to a conclusion, truth, though trampled down, will one day rise again to take the throne. Honour, though besmirched by the enemy, will not be finally dishonoured. Liberty, though it may be enslaved for a while in chains, will break through to final freedom and emancipate us all in the day of victory. Peace, miscalled, slandered and made to wear the clothes of surrender, will rise to wear the unstainable robe of purity. And purity is the basis of all peace. God speed the day when this will happen.

Photo of Pat Doherty Pat Doherty Sinn Féin 3:00 pm, 4th July 2000

A Cheann Comhairle. At the last Assembly election the DUP received a mandate which elected 20 Members and entitled it to two seats on the Executive. In that same election Sinn Féin received a mandate which elected 18 Members and entitled my party, Sinn Féin, also to two seats on the Executive. No rhetoric from the DUP can annihilate that mandate. It entitles us to claim, and to have, those two seats.

One month before the Assembly elections there was a referendum that laid out the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. It also laid out the terms on which this Assembly would meet and vote on various motions. In that referendum the people of Fermanagh, Tyrone, Derry, Antrim, Armagh and Down voted by some 71% in favour of the Good Friday Agreement. The people of the Twenty-six Counties also voted by a majority of 94% in favour of the Good Friday Agreement. That is the basis on which we are in this House, and that is the basis on which we hold seats on the Executive.

For almost two years now the DUP has attempted to collect 30 signatures to bring forward this motion. For some time it had 29 signatures and so was unable to bring it forward. One wonders what tricks in the book were used to persuade, or to break, Pauline Armitage in order to get that last signature.

When we get over the usual DUP preamble and come to the core of this motion of exclusion, we find that it talks of the Assembly not enjoying confidence in Sinn Féin and suggests that Sinn Féin Members be excluded from holding office as Ministers for twelve months. This motion stands in the name of Ian Paisley and Mr Peter Robinson, and it clearly acknowledges in writing, at last, that the name of my party is Sinn Féin. It is there in writing, and I would ask them from now on to call us by our proper name — the name that they have put in writing by way of this motion.

Why has this motion been put forward when, quite clearly, it will not succeed? They know it will not succeed and that it is a waste of time. It is not about excluding Sinn Féin, because they do not have the power or influence to do that. It is part of the battle within Unionism — a battle between the Unionists who might contemplate change and the Unionists who are opposed to change, opposed to equality and opposed to the Good Friday Agreement.

We all know of the DUP and its association with, and membership of, various Unionist military organisations — the B-Specials, the UDR, the RIR, the RUC and Ulster Resistance. There is documentary evidence and linkage with various loyalist groups. We all know this. Everybody across the Six Counties — indeed, everybody across Ireland and Europe who are interested — knows of this association and of this tie-up. A book by Pat Marrinan called ‘Paisley’ gave details of Ian Paisley’s paramilitary involvement from Malvern Street right through to the deaths at Ballyshannon electricity pylons. All of that is well documented.

We also know the hypocrisy of the DUP — how they sit on the various councils across the Six Counties and serve with Sinn Féin Members, and of the foreign trips they take with Sinn Féin Members. What about their record in this House? What about their membership of the Committees?

The Rev Dr Ian Paisley, Mr Gardiner Kane, Mr Ian Paisley Jnr serve on the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee with Sinn Féin Members, Gerry McHugh and Francie Molloy. Boyd Douglas of the United Unionist Assembly Party also serves on that Committee. They go on trips to Portavogie with Members of Sinn Féin as part of the work of this House.

David Hilditch and Jim Shannon serve with Mary Neilis and Barry McElduff on the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee. Frazer Agnew also serves on that Committee. Isn’t it pure, blatant, unadulterated hypocrisy that they serve on these Committees? Sammy Wilson and Oliver Gibson serve on the Education Committee with Gerry McHugh and Barry McElduff. Gregory Campbell and Wilson Clyde are on the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee — which I chair — along with my Colleague Dara O’Hagan. They take part in the debates, involve themselves in the dialogue, and speak through the chairperson, who happens to be a member of Sinn Féin. Mr Campbell tries not to get into the debate, but when he has to, he does so regularly.

William McCrea and Edwin Poots serve with Mitchell McLoughlin and Mick Murphy on the Environment Committee. Denis Watson, the Orange Order leader who will not speak to the residents, but who will sit with Sinn Féin on the Committees, takes tea and coffee from the same pot.

Oliver Gibson and Gardiner Kane serve with Sinn Féin Members, Francie Molloy, in the chair, and Alex Maskey on the Finance and Personnel Committee. Peter Weir is there also, dialoguing with Sinn Féin and partaking in Government with Sinn Féin.

More Members of the DUP, Paul Berry and Iris Robinson serve with John Kelly and Sue Ramsey on the Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee — and there we see Pauline Armitage also involving herself in the same hypocrisy.

Roger Hutchinson, Mervyn Carrick, and William Hay serve with John Kelly and Mary Nelis on the Higher and Further Education, Training and Employment Committee. They are all serving with Sinn Féin Members.

The Regional Development Committee has William Hay, Jim Wells and Roger Hutchinson serving with Conor Murphy.

The Social Development Committee has Mark Robinson and Sammy Wilson serving with Michelle Gildernew and Gerry Kelly. The hypocrisy goes on and on.

The Audit Committee has Mark Robinson and Gerry McHugh. It will go well in your constituencies when you try to explain serving with Sinn Féin to the electorate

DUP Members, Maurice Morrow, Iris Robinson together with Denis Watson again serving with Sinn Féin Members, Alex Maskey and Conor Murphy.

Then we have the membership of the Standing Committees. In the Committee of the Centre we have Gregory Campbell, Oliver Gibson and Jim Shannon serving with Michelle Gildernew, Alex Maskey and Mitchell McLoughlin.

We have Maurice Morrow, Sammy Wilson and Frazer Agnew serving with Conor Murphy and Pat McNamee on the Committee on Procedures.

The Public Accounts Committee has Mervyn Carrick and David Hilditch serving with Sue Ramsey and Pauline Armitage. All of these hypocrites, who will not serve with Sinn Féin, but who will sit in Committees, serve on councils across the North, and go on foreign trips. We have Edwin Poots and Jim Wells, and we have Pat McNamee —

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker

Order. It may be acceptable in parliamentary terms to refer to the hypocrisy of various parties’ positions, but it is not acceptable in parliamentary terms to refer to other Members as hypocrites. This may seem to some Members to be a fine dividing line, and I can recall some who have drawn word pictures to try to get around the parliamentary rules. We shall try to stick with them.

Photo of Pat Doherty Pat Doherty Sinn Féin

Ian Paisley said earlier that the truth will come out. Well, the truth is coming out here about the way in which these DUP Members serve on all of the Committees and the Assembly Commission where we have Gregory Campbell serving along with Sinn Féin’s Dara O’Hagan. There are 18 DUP Members serving on Committees. The two who do not serve are Peter Robinson and his fellow Minister. Why do they not serve? Why do these cardinals appointed by the Pope, as Dr Paisley called himself, not serve? What do Mr McCartney and his former colleagues think of this, when they do not serve on any of the Committees at all?

Surely there is a lack of logic in this. What is it all about? What are they at? What are they trying to do? Are they so blinded by their sectarian bigotry, so unwilling to accept equality, and so unwilling to accept the democratic mandate of Sinn Féin? What lies behind it all? It is surely a battle that is going on within Unionism to find where the heart and soul of Unionism really lies.

This motion is a waste of time and energy. It will be defeated, and the quicker it is defeated, the better for all of us. Let the DUP try to come to its senses, to come to understand that if we are to find a way to make progress it will have to accept that our mandate right across Ireland, our mandate in this state and in the Twenty-Six Counties state, is equal to its mandate and that we will not have it negated.

Photo of Rt Hon David Trimble Rt Hon David Trimble First Minister of Northern Ireland, Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

There is indeed a serious issue for us to consider today — a very serious issue which ought to be addressed, an issue that, so far as I have been able to ascertain, has not yet been mentioned. That issue involves violence, and the violence that occurred last night, and the night before on streets in Northern Ireland. Riots are taking place in Northern Ireland. Last night and the night before we saw paramilitaries pelting our policeman with stones and bottles, displaying their arms and using those arms. That is the issue which ought to be at the forefront of our minds today.

We all know the violence that we saw last night and the night before could get worse. We have to ask ourselves, in the light of this threat to society, what we are doing? Are we collectively as an Assembly, as political parties, or as individual elected representatives trying to exercise a calming influence on society, or are we exacerbating the situation? In that context, I have very grave doubts about the debate here today. What is it going to do, given the background of the violence that is occurring, but has not yet been mentioned? Is this debate going to calm that situation, or is it going to exacerbate it? Is this debate not going to increase the tension? Is this debate not intended to increase the tension? Has this debate not been held back to bring it as close as possible to the points at which tension will occur in order to exacerbate the situation? I am extremely concerned, as the situation deteriorates this week, and we see, as we no doubt shall, further violence, I know who is going to take the rap. It will not be the Members here, but the Orange Order.

The truth of the matter is that the DUP does not care about the situation developing. I say to the media reporting this, that they should go to the DUP and ask what contribution it is making to the maintenance of peace and calm in Northern Ireland today. That should be at the forefront of everybody’s mind.

However, rather than address the real situation on the streets, Dr Paisley gave a philippic in which he attacked, in very familiar terms, the way in which power is being shared through an Administration with Republicans, as indeed it is, and he and his party are doing it.

The truth of the matter is that, if the DUP really wanted to stop the Assembly, it could have done so. There was a moment a few weeks ago when we had before us the matter of the accelerated procedure for the Appropriation Bill. If that had been objected to, the Northern Ireland Administration, the Assembly and all associated — [Interruption]

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker 3:15 pm, 4th July 2000

Order. I cannot permit conversations to go backwards and forwards sotto voce between sedentary Members. That is not acceptable.

Photo of Rt Hon David Trimble Rt Hon David Trimble First Minister of Northern Ireland, Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

As I was saying, there was a moment a few weeks ago when the Assembly and the Administration could have been brought to a complete halt by just one person’s saying one word. Do Members remember what the word was? It was "No". They did not think of it, for they did not know what it was.

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP

Rubbish. You do not even know what you are talking about. Absolute rubbish. Lies.

Photo of Rt Hon David Trimble Rt Hon David Trimble First Minister of Northern Ireland, Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

Mr Speaker, I hear the word "lies" from a sedentary position. That is wholly untrue, and it does the Member concerned no credit whatsoever that he sits there casting aspersions in that manner, all the time knowing them to be false. I think the Members concerned—

Photo of Robert McCartney Robert McCartney UKUP

On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Photo of Robert McCartney Robert McCartney UKUP

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You are perfectly well aware that, while any "No", used as Mr Trimble has suggested, might have brought the proceedings to a complete halt at that point, to suggest that such a halt would have been permanent is wrong. On a point of order, you should deal with the misleading statement made by the last Member who spoke.

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker

Order. I am somewhat doubtful as to whether that was a point order. However, if that is the case, there is no question that the accelerated procedure for the Appropriations Bill required the leave of the House. From a technical point of view, it is absolutely clear that no Member says "No". I was asked to comment on a point of order. I am not prepared to comment on a point of politics. If there is a point of order, it is a procedural point, and I have responded to that.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Will you tell the House what would have happened if one person had said "No" that day?

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker

There would have been no accelerated passage for the Appropriation Bill — meaning that it would not have been able to pass before the end of this session. I am not prepared to permit this issue to become a matter of political debate. I shall take a final point of order from Mr Robinson.

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP

Is it not true that in circumstances when we cannot proceed with the accelerated process, the normal processes could take place if the recess were curtailed?

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker

When one does the sums, one finds that that would not have been possible because the timing required would not have permitted it to go through in the time that was available.

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP

You would have had to change the recess.

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker

Even if the recess were changed. I have been asked a question, which I have answered to the best of my knowledge.

Photo of Rt Hon David Trimble Rt Hon David Trimble First Minister of Northern Ireland, Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party

These last exchanges have been quite interesting. They open up the possibility that the parties sitting to my right did not realise that had they said "No" at that time, the money for the Administration would have run out in the middle of August and the Administration would have ground to a halt.

It does not detract from the reality. Those parties — I will make an honourable exception for the Gentleman who insulted me — whose members say that they are opposed to the Administration and the presence of Sinn Féin in it, are fully involved. We have evidence of that. We know that they have attended more than 250 Committee meetings with Sinn Féin, have taken part in debates, and have addressed questions directly to Sinn Feín Members.

Two of those Committees are interesting. The Assembly Commission, which has administered a budget of £26 million, is an Executive body. It is not a debating body, or a deliberative Committee. It is an Executive body, with responsibility for a substantial budget, and which consists of five members, one of whom is a member of Sinn Féin, and one of whom is a member of the DUP. They are involved in the Administration.

At the other extreme is the Gift Shop Committee, in which the DUP is involved and takes Executive decisions. Members of the DUP have no problem exercising Executive authority along with Sinn Féin. They want the system to work, but they also want to snipe at the UUP. That is what this is all about. We do not mind them sniping, and people outside know that they want the system to work. The people see through the hypocrisy that we have had today.

There are other issues that I want to address, including the decommissioning of weapons, which has already been mentioned. Let us be clear. The only progress that has been made has been as a result of our efforts and work. The DUP has achieved nothing and does not want to achieve anything. That is the reality. In so far as progress has been made, it is because of our efforts, but that progress is not complete. We are not yet where we want to be, but at least there has been progress, which is undeniable.

I have some words for Sinn Féin too which are important. Those complaining about the lack of time should not have wasted it. The same charges could be made against Sinn Feín. The people who claim to be committed to peaceful means need to display that, day in and day out. There is still progress to be made. Sinn Feín claims that it is here on a mandate. That mandate, under the agreement, places on Sinn Feín a commitment to exclusively peaceful means. That commitment must be demonstrated. If we looked only to the past to see whether it had been demonstrated, it is obvious what the answer would be.

As I said on the first day on which the Assembly sat, just because people have a past does not mean that they cannot have a future. We are trying to bring about that better future. In doing so, we are creating the chance for change. We hope that there will be some crossing over the bridge from terrorism to democracy. We shall say "Yes, we want to see you crossing that bridge." But we also say to you that in respect of every promise you make, every pledge you give towards peace and towards decommissioning, we will hold you to it. We have demonstrated that. In January and February it was clear which party was prepared to resign over the issue, and it was the Ulster Unionist Party.

We want to see a democratic — peaceful Ulster — a peaceful Northern Ireland at ease with itself, and to achieve that we are prepared to go the extra mile. We have no doubt about the destination, and that destination will be based on the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland — and their wishes alone.

Photo of Alban Maginness Alban Maginness Social Democratic and Labour Party

This debate is an end-of-term political stunt by the DUP. It is a piece of pure theatre, acted out by the DUP and their erstwhile allies to entertain their audience of expectant supporters. It serves no purpose other than to indulge their supporters in a crass display of ‘blood and thunder’ histrionics in this Chamber.

They are incapable of realising their purported objective of excluding Sinn Féin from the Northern Ireland Executive. I know that, you know that, Mr Speaker, the press know that, everyone knows that, and so this is a purposeless motion, doomed to failure at the end of this debate. It is a piece of procedural graffiti scrawled on the Order Paper of this House. It has been done to fool the public and for no other purpose. It is designed to pretend that the DUP is a powerful driving force in this Assembly and that it is different from the Ulster Unionist Party, which it regards as its real opponent — not Sinn Féin. It is obsessed with damaging and undermining the Ulster Unionist Party, wanting to replace it as the leader of the Ulster Unionist community.

This is a tactical device to weaken the Ulster Unionist Party throughout Northern Ireland and to undermine its leadership. Indeed, Mr McCartney said that the purpose of this debate was to expose Mr Trimble and the Ulster Unionist Party. He admits that the real implied purpose of this debate is not to exclude Sinn Féin but to weaken the Ulster Unionist Party.

What is the reality in this Assembly and the Northern Ireland Executive? The reality is that the DUP ia piggybacking on the backs of the Ulster Unionist Party and, indeed, the other pro-agreement parties. Its members are enjoying the benefits of office, while at the same time pretending to the public not to be part of the Administration. Their semi-detached stance is, like this motion, a piece of theatricality, once again designed to please their gullible supporters. The reality is that you cannot hide indefinitely in the wings. You have to be honest with people and emerge onto the stage with the other players in Government — the SDLP, the Ulster Unionists and, indeed, Sinn Féin.

We have been told that if the DUP does not get its way its Ministers are going to resign from office and be replaced by other DUP members. First of all, none of us has noticed any great desire on the part of Peter Robinson or his Colleague, Nigel Dodds, to depart from office. In fact, they display a very obvious liking for their respective positions. The lure of office seems to have taken its toll.

Be that as it may, what are the consequences of the DUP’s playing musical chairs with two Departments for which it is responsible? While it plays politics, the Departments risk damage and, indeed, may suffer. What does that do for the people of Northern Ireland? Does it help them? Who will suffer? The people of Northern Ireland will suffer, because of the failure to properly tackle the serious problems of housing, the roads network, the transport system, the railway system, the bus service, the Water Service and the development of a regional framework for the next generation. Those grave and urgent matters will not be properly addressed, because the DUP prefers to play politics and not to serve the public interest.

The public interest is easily abandoned by the DUP. Let me say, here and now, the pro-agreement parties will not permit the vital interests of the people of Northern Ireland to be sacrificed by the DUP for party political reasons. If necessary the Departmental Committees could be used to act where DUP Ministers fail to exercise their responsibilities. If they are not responsible, then we will be responsible.

This is a contemptible motion, for it is in contempt of the will of this Assembly as it was elected three years ago. It is in contempt of the will of the people of Northern Ireland, as expressed in a referendum three years ago. That mandate, given to us by the people of Northern Ireland, stands unaltered and undiluted. The people of Northern Ireland want peace. They want a stable political system. They want serious cross-community leadership that will lead them to a prosperous, stable, tolerant and reconciled society. That is the aim of the Good Friday Agreement. That is the aim of this Executive, and the people see the beginnings of that system now, and they welcome it. They have no desire to see the substantial political progress which we have made in that direction being pulled down by the ham play-acting of the DUP.

Photo of Seamus Close Seamus Close Alliance 3:30 pm, 4th July 2000

Some of the arguments used against the tabling of this motion are spurious and illogical. We are told that there is no chance of the motion’s being passed, because it cannot possibly achieve cross-community support, and, therefore, is a waste of time. I do not believe the motion will get passed, but that is no reason for not having a debate. What sort of an Assembly would this be if the only motions that we could debate were those that were assured of success? This is a democratic Assembly, and I believe we should defend the right of anyone to put down a motion and have it debated on the Floor of this House.

Is this motion a waste of time? Certainly not. Anything that further exposes the hypocrisy of the Democratic Unionist Party cannot be, and is not, a waste of time. I view it as a glorious opportunity to give the DUP Members the time and the space in which they can make further fools of themselves. It has taken the Democratic Unionist Party a long, long time to get the signatures to have this motion debated. Why? Because the majority of elected representatives in this House recognise that the DUP is flogging a dead horse. They recognise that the DUP’s case is rather weak and that its motivations are all too obvious.

The Democratic Unionist Party knows that its motion will not succeed; it will fail. Is it not a hallmark of the DUP that it fails on important issues? It said that it would smash Sinn Féin. Not only did it fail to do so but, I believe that because of extreme language and sectarianism, the DUP might have brought about an increase in the vote and the growth in support for Sinn Féin. Bigoted and sectarian remarks help to drive people to the extremes, and we all know that extremists feed on extremism. No one could call the Democratic Unionist Party a moderate party.

The DUP also told the people of Northern Ireland that it would wreck the Good Friday Agreement. It ran away from the negotiations — I can only assume that it did so because it had no alternative to sharing power. The DUP tried its utmost to persuade the good people of Northern Ireland that there was a future in their saying, "No". However, the people would have none of it. They gave the DUP their answer: 72% of the people of Northern Ireland said, "Yes, we support the Good Friday Agreement"; 72% said, "Yes, we want a new beginning"; and 72% said that there was no future in negativity and that they must move forward.

Any party that calls itself democratic must surely accept the voice of the people in a referendum — any party except the Democratic Unionist Party. It is still trying to persuade us that "Yes" means "No". It seems to have a total fixation with the word "No". It advocates majority rule, but refuses to accept that 72% is a majority. Therein lies the motivation behind the motion. It has got absolutely nothing to do with the exclusion of Sinn Féin, but everything to do with overthrowing the voice and the will of the people of Northern Ireland.

The motion is not about democracy; it is about dictatorship — the dictatorship of the Democratic Unionist Party. It wants to smash not only Sinn Féin, but all the political parties that do not follow the DUP’s negative precepts. It has declared political war within the Unionist tribe. In so doing, it is guaranteeing the further growth of Sinn Féin in the Nationalist tribe. Its enemy in this sham fight is not Sinn Féin. The DUP knows better than most that votes do not pass between the extremes. Its fight is against moderation, the success of the Assembly and the overwhelming voice of the people of Northern Ireland.

The exclusion of Sinn Féin would be totally counter-productive. It would be negative. Progress has undoubtedly been made in moving away from the horrific and bloody past. Firm commitments have been given by the IRA to initiate a process that will completely and verifiably put its arms beyond use in a way that will gain maximum public confidence. When further discussions by the IRA have been resumed with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning to resolve the arms issue, and when arms dumps have been inspected and secured by Martti Ahtisaari and Cyril Ramaphosa, the DUP chooses this moment to cynically inject negativity and fear into the minds of the people of Northern Ireland — on 4 July, one week before 12 July.

What has changed? The DUP seems to exist to generate fear and concern in the minds of the people of Northern Ireland. Then what does it do? It cynically exploits that fear. It has a history in Northern Ireland of whipping up fear and emotions and then performing the pilot act.

That is not to say that I am satisfied with the current state of the peace process. Much more needs to be done by paramilitaries on all sides to convince the people that normal decent society is just around the corner. We need to see an end to paramilitary skull- and bone-smashing. We need to see an end to paramilitary organisations. We need to see an end to turf wars, racketeering and the violence that is nearly endemic to this place. We need to see positive moves by both sets of paramilitary organisations on the arms issue, not cynicism, and an end to the type of sloganising that depicts one bunch of thugs as better than the other. We do not need to see any more sick murals gloating over death and barbarism, such as recently appeared on the Shankill Road. Is true remorse really demonstrated by the painting of obnoxious, ghoulish nightmares?

Consider the current situation at Drumcree. Where are the defenders of the RUC now? Who is throwing the bricks? Who is throwing the brickbats? Who is firing the shots, standing in the company of the UFF and trying to vomit their hatred on the people and the security forces? We need to see further change, but it will not be occasioned by this motion. This motion is proof positive that the DUP does not have a constructive or positive idea in its head to move Northern Ireland away from its bad past.

The DUP appears to have been reared on negativity. For breakfast, dinner, tea and supper, it has a meal of negativity. "Not an inch", not a hope. It reacts badly when progress and positivity are on the horizon. Like bats in the sunlight, they cannot survive when progress is being made. The Assembly offers hope and progress. The Executive Committee and all the other institutions brought about by the Good Friday Agreement offer hope for the people of Northern Ireland. The Democratic Unionist Party is afraid of that hope. If permanent peace were established, what would the Democratic Unionist Party do? If confidence in the future were secured, what would the Democratic Unionists do? They cannot exploit fear if the people are not afraid. If the people are confident about the future, the DUP has nothing on which to feed. If it does not feed, it will starve and die.

This motion is a desperate DUP attempt to destabilise the Assembly. It will not succeed. Rather, the defeat of the motion will be an opportunity for the Democratic Unionist Party to show the people exactly what it is all about: political hokey-cokey, with Peter in and Peter out, Nigel in and Nigel out, they do the hokey-cokey and they change them around, that is what it is all about.

Photo of Mr Cedric Wilson Mr Cedric Wilson NIUP

The significance of this debate will not escape the wider public in Northern Ireland. If nothing else emerges from this debate — and our opponents would clearly like the matter to go away —the vote will demonstrate the lack of a mandate and authority of Mr Trimble and the Ulster Unionist Party. The majority of Unionists in the Chamber today will support the motion. The lack of authority and of a mandate that Mr Trimble will be made aware of today is a lack of authority within the Chamber, in terms of the representatives of the Unionist community, but it is also true of the wider Unionist community.

It would be very easy for our opponents to dismiss those who are wrongly described as anti-agreement. It would be easy for them to say that we are beaten and that our cause is lost. I would like to illustrate how I believe that the true will of the majority of the people in Northern Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant, can be demonstrated in the House today. The only thing that we can point to is what has happened in the past. Looking at every election held in Northern Ireland since this process commenced, one becomes aware that when candidates, whether pro-agreement Ulster Unionists or from anti-agreement parties, have presented themselves to the electorate, they have all had one thing in common. They pledged to the Unionist electorate that they would not sit in Government with those "inextricably linked" — to use the Prime Minister’s terms — to terrorist organisations, and they would not sit in Government with those who, by day, were sitting in the democratic body of the Assembly and, by day and night, were planning further acts of terror.

In the last European elections, people were clearly presented, by Dr Paisley and by Jim Nicholson, with the same message — that a vote for the Ulster Unionist candidate, or the vote for Dr Paisley and the DUP, was a vote on the issue of whether terrorists should be admitted to Government without prior decommissioning. The vote was also on the issue of the future of the RUC and the Union flag. The issues were the same in the last Westminster election, and the Assembly elections to this House.

Other Members have pointed out that the Ulster Unionist Party assured those that it was asking to trust with their vote that all of those matters were matters on which the Ulster Unionists would meet their election commitments.

A recent opinion poll was carried out at the request of the University of Ulster and the Queen’s University of Belfast by Colin Irwin. It is the only one that we can point to at the moment. In relation to a question on whether the Executive should be re-formed prior to the Ulster Unionist Party vote, the figures were quite revealing and are what I base my case on today.

Sixty-four per cent of Protestants and 29% of Catholics were of the view that there must be total decommissioning of paramilitary weapons before an Executive could be put in place. That decommissioning had to take place in its totality before Sinn Féin could be brought into an Executive. On whether there should be partial decommissioning, the figure increased in the Catholic community, with 45% saying that they required at least token decommissioning.

Mr Trimble does not represent the vast majority of people who voted for the Ulster Unionist Party. They did so, as Dr Paisley pointed out, on the basis of the additional pledges of the Prime Minister that no terrorists would be in Government, that there would be no continuation of the release of terrorists unless violence stopped for good, and, of course, that the Royal Ulster Constabulary would not be disbanded. Mr Trimble stands with the 2% of the Protestant or Unionist population who, according to this poll, believed that no decommissioning of paramilitary weapons was required before an Executive could be formed. That is the true figure that Mr Trimble represents when he stands here today and attempts to say that he is representing the Unionist community. Indeed, when one looks at whether the Catholic community in Northern Ireland would be happy with bringing unreconstructed terrorists into the Government of Northern Ireland, the figure reached is no higher than 20%.

Despite the slur placed on those deemed to be anti-agreement, I say quite clearly that we are not the villains of the peace. Most of those have left the Assembly Chamber because they do not like to hear the truth. The reality is that those who have held this community to ransom, and who have terrorised and plagued it for 30 years, are to be found in the ranks of Sinn Féin/IRA represented by Mr Martin McGuinness and Mr Gerry Adams.

The corruption of this process, which is called a peace process, and the corruption of law and order that has taken place in this community to allow these people into the Government of Northern Ireland, has been encouraged by Mr Blair and his associates, Miss Mowlam and the current Secretary of State. They have helped Mr McGuinness and Mr Adams to bury their pasts and their past mistakes. I use that term because we are well aware that while these people sit in Government over those whom they terrorised, there are families in this Province whose mothers, fathers and other relatives are lying in unmarked graves, their lives brought to an untimely end by those who orchestrated violence — namely Mr Adams, the commander in charge of the Belfast brigade of the IRA on "bloody Friday" and Mr Martin McGuinness. Those two gentlemen were responsible for the deaths of 1,700 innocent victims in Northern Ireland. Yet today they are sitting in Government over the very people and community they terrorised. Who will speak for those people today? This process was designed to corrupt the democratic process. What else, of course —

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker 3:45 pm, 4th July 2000

Order. I advise the Member that I will be scrutinising carefully some of the comments he has just made — they were rather particular in their nature.

Photo of Mr Cedric Wilson Mr Cedric Wilson NIUP

I am quite happy for you to do so, Mr Speaker. I look forward to any challenge to what I have said. My remarks echo what has been said over the years by political commentators and those who have written the history of Sinn Féin and the IRA.

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker

Order. The Member and other Members must understand, however, that, as I drew to a Member’s attention earlier, some things that are said outside may not be appropriate in a parliamentary Chamber. He needs to be careful that specific accusations, which may have been reported elsewhere, may not necessarily in their particulars be attributed so directly to other Members when they have not been proven in a court of law. That is why I advise the Member so, and other Members too.

Photo of Mr Cedric Wilson Mr Cedric Wilson NIUP

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Of course, one —

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

This Chamber has complete immunity; it is a parliamentary Chamber. I have read the Act, and it has the same privilege and immunity as that of the House of Commons. If something is said that would be actionable outside the Chamber, that is just too bad for the person outside. They cannot take action about remarks so made.

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker

I do not in any way dissent from what the Member has said about absolute privilege, but that does not mean that anything is within the bounds of parliamentary language. It was in that context that I urged caution on the part Mr C Wilson, but Dr Paisley is quite right on the question of absolute privilege.

Photo of Mr Cedric Wilson Mr Cedric Wilson NIUP

It was interesting to hear the First Minister commenting about the activities of Loyalist paramilitaries at Drumcree over the past few evenings. What else can one expect from a process that witnessed the former Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam, emerging from a prison to inform the press that she had just spoken to two of the heroes of the peace process, "Johnny" and "Michael"? When the startled press asked who they were, she said that they were Johnny Adair and Michael Stone. Other Members have referred to these people as representatives of the Unionist community. Mr Stone and Mr Adair are on record as being supporters of the Belfast Agreement, and we hand that fact back to the First Minister.

I advise those in the Orange Order and the Unionist community to question whether these people who are masquerading and hijacking the protest at Drumcree, are there to support the cause, or whether they are there to undermine and destroy the cause. I appeal to people to have nothing to do with those who are destroying the cause. Our cause is just and right. We condemn the people in masks and with firearms — they do not represent the majority of people in the Unionist community.

We do not need to dwell in the past to examine the activities of Sinn Féin and the IRA— we can come right up to date. In Florida recently there have been ongoing court cases at the very time when the Sinn Féin/IRA movement was apparently on ceasefire. They were, indeed, shipping in guns for use in further acts of atrocity, murder and mayhem throughout our community, and if we come right up to date in terms of what has been happening in this Province, we are aware, of course, that Ed McCoy was shot dead, according to reliable information from the security forces, by Sinn Féin/IRA. The recent bomb at Ballymurphy was attributed, by those who know these things, to the Provisional IRA who were preparing to launch an attack on the RUC.

On behalf of my party — the Northern Ireland Unionist Party — I fully support the motion standing in the names of Rev Dr Ian Paisley and Mr Peter Robinson, and I encourage all fellow Unionists to support this motion. It is a motion that is capable of being supported by all who believe in law and order and democracy.

Photo of Mr Denis Watson Mr Denis Watson UUAP

Before addressing the motion, I condemn unequivocally and without reservation the violence and destruction that has occurred in the last couple of days. I have to say, however, that it is understandable, given the frustration among the Protestant people who see everything being taken away at the behest of Republicans and nothing being given in return. If the First Minister, through his Chief of Staff, Bro David McNarry and others, had not openly encouraged principal district officers in Portadown to go against the advice of the County Grand Lodge Officers and the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, then some of the mess that has unfolded there may not have done so.

I am reminded that the First Minister has already said that we have "a novel form of government". Those words have been proved to be correct. Over the last 30 years we have witnessed the rape of democracy by Sinn Féin/IRA as it has pursued its onslaught of murder on our community. It even has the audacity to use the courts to its advantage to destroy this Province and remove all vestiges of everything British.

On the day of the referendum our Prime Minister, writing in the ‘News Letter’, said

"Representatives of parties intimately linked to paramilitary groups can only be in a future Northern Ireland Government if it is clear there would be no more violence and the threat of violence has gone. That does not just mean decommissioning, but all bombings, killings, beatings and an end to targeting, recruitment and all structures of terrorism."

On 1 July 1998 Mr Trimble quoted from his party’s manifesto:

"Before any terrorist organisation and/or political wing can benefit from the proposals contained in the agreement on the release of terrorist prisoners and the holding of ministerial office in the Assembly, the commitment to exclusively peaceful and non-violent means must be established. The Ulster Unionist Party will be using various criteria that are objective, meaningful and verifiable to judge whether this is being achieved."

He concluded that

"Ulster Unionists will not sit in Government with unreconstructed terrorists."

On 9 November 1998 we were told by Mr Foster

"We need decommissioning now — not next week or next year."

On 15 December 1998 he said

"Nothing is going to happen until there is decommissioning, and the UUP will keep its promises and will not be rushed into doing things that are not right."

On the same day Mr Trimble told us that we would have to table a motion for the exclusion from office of those who had not begun the process of decommissioning. Despite all this rhetoric we now have a Government in place.

In Mr Trimble’s and my constituency of Upper Bann, there has never been any semblance of normality or a ceasefire. The lingering sore of 16 unresolved IRA murders since 1984 continues to fester and cause bitter resentment.

Of course, we have witnessed the intransigence of the Republicans in our own constituency, and that surely reflects the same impasse that we have experienced here over the last two years. They bay for parity of esteem but are not prepared to reciprocate. They insist on denying Protestants their civil and religious liberty. This has been part of an orchestrated campaign by Sinn Féin. When he was speaking to one of his Colleagues in the Chamber today Mr Adams was heard to say "We now have the Orange where we wanted them." This was said no longer ago than today.

The May 2000 deadline was of no relevance, as we know, because there is no deadline that is binding on Sinn Féin — it only has to use its influence — and none at all on the IRA as it was not party to the Belfast deal.

Why will there be no decommissioning by the IRA? Simply because the leadership knows only too well that there is no consensus in its movement and that the mere discussion of this issue would be divisive and potentially disastrous. Therefore this entire process has been laid on a foundation of murder, bombings and terror. Selected bunkers have been opened for inspection, but those arsenals are all still intact and pointed at the law-abiding citizens of Northern Ireland.

At no time has the IRA ever shown any remorse for its deeds. In no other democratic country in the world would there be terrorists in the Government. But, of course, what do we find here? We find one in the post of Minister of Education — and I am reminded that the Provisional IRA has, down through the years, murdered school teachers, school children, principals, students, others who work in schools and school-bus drivers. Many innocent victims have been murdered in the presence of young people and students. Millions of pounds have been wasted through damage to schools and universities by IRA bombs. There remains a crisis in education funding today, which could be attributed, in part, to the 30-year terrorist onslaught directed against us.

We look at what the Health Minister presides over and find that people are receiving attention after being hit around the head with baseball bats or having their hands nailed to planks of wood in crucifixion-style attacks, which can only be described as devilish and wicked in the extreme. This Minister provides funding for the treatment — rather ironic. As I have already said, in no other democratic country in the world would we find terrorists in the Government, but here we find that democracy has been turned on its head so that we avoid another Canary Wharf bomb.

The motion is a simple one: we can either choose to exclude the political representatives of the most brutal killing machine in western Europe and take a stand for democracy, decency and justice, or allow them to remain in this Chamber with their stockpile of weaponry, which they have refused point-blank to decommission, outside the door, so that they can go back to doing what they do best. Therefore I say to all right-thinking Unionists in the Chamber that they should support the motion and oppose terrorists in Government until they hand over their arsenals.

I support the motion.

Photo of David Ervine David Ervine PUP 4:00 pm, 4th July 2000

This debate on the exclusion of Sinn Féin seems, to a degree, to be about huffing and puffing. We all know that it will not be successful, and yet, as one Colleague has already said, there is perfect reason for airing such issues on the Floor of the House. We are airing this issue in the first week of July, against a backdrop of difficulty.

I can remember as a kid how I looked forward to the July holidays. I can remember a sense of innocence that existed, and I can remember a sense of joy. Now there are many people in my community who are dismayed as we approach July. But not all of them are dismayed; there are those vying for positions,who watch our society as it almost pulls itself apart, vying for positions, whether they be muscle-strapped paramilitarists strutting about Drumcree, or whether they be those who raise contentious issues such as the expulsion of Sinn Féin.

People like me are accused of being traitors. It would seem that we are wedded to, have a great affinity with and get on terribly well with Sinn Féin. That is what our opponents tell everyone.

Our political opponents know very well the background from which I come. For me, the price of being a traitor is not to get hit over the head with an umbrella at Scarva — the stuff I have to worry about moves at a higher velocity than that. But still they make the calls; still they loudly make the calls, and if those calls were to be believed then perhaps we would have someone here in my place, or in my Colleague’s place. That is the reality. It may sound dramatic but it is an absolute reality.

Dr Paisley said the electorate would punish us. I am standing here ready, unashamed, and waiting for my punishment, because my quest is a quest for peace. I do not see anything wrong with that. I know that our society has come through great difficulty — I have seen the blood and the brains on the pavements. I have buried members of my family, so the theory that somebody holds a monopoly on pain and suffering is nonsense. We have all gone through that pain.

The truth is that every peace process in the world will have its difficulties. There will be moderates who will have the vision, and there will be Neanderthals who will bite at the ankles of the visionary. That is the reality, and it is going on in peace processes across the world. People have to make a choice between the pain of dealing with those who they formerly fought with, or detested so much that they would have blown their heads off, what their children might have to go through, and whether there is an opportunity for a future where we can say "it is worth a try." That is the issue. And if I am someone from the shadows — and while I am not taking too much flak today because we are not just yet ready to take positions in Government —the truth is, of course, that what you say of Sinn Féin and the IRA you mean of me.

Cedric Wilson made it very clear and the DUP has made it very clear that nothing has changed. But that is nothing new. Nothing in paramilitary life has ever changed. You stand up; you do what you believe you are being exalted to do, and then once you have done it you are condemned by those who exalted you. Nothing has changed. It never changed and it will not change for the new brand of UFF that we are seeing on Drumcree hill. It will not change for the new brand of LVF, Red Hand Defenders or Orange Volunteers — and, by the way, if they did not exist someone would have to create them. Oh, sorry, somebody did. The reality is that nothing new is coming from the grand democrats.

But let us measure what we are facing, and what we have to gain, against what we have to lose. Any war must end. Any piece of violence or conflagration must end. In any conflagration there is the first attack and the last — and how tragic it must be to lose someone at the last. Nevertheless, it has to end, and who is it that has to end it? Usually, around the world, it is politicians — not so Northern Ireland. The soldiers had to go to the other soldiers and say "get out of the trenches, we have had enough." That is what happened. You will excuse me calling them soldiers. It is just a badge of identification for those who have fought and died for what they believe in. They may not be the constituted soldiers that some of you would like, but, nevertheless, that is how they are defined in their own community. The soldiers said, "Hey, the politicians will never end this, come on." That is what happened.

Had we waited for constitutional politicians to move together, to have proper and reasonable dialogue with each other in order that the violence of our society might end and our children would get a chance, we would have waited for a very, very, very, very long time. That is the truth of the matter.

Whether or not I like Sinn Féin is not the issue. The issue is whether I would like my grandchildren to grow up in a society that has a chance of normality. And I believe the risk is worth taking. I am asked all the time what is it like to sit beside Martin McGuinness — I was asked it when I was on television the other night. Well, you get used to it. But it was not specifically something that I could have said a few years ago, because all of us have our sense of difficulty with all of these things, and I imagine that there are some of them who have their difficulties with my Colleague and me.

In Northern Ireland today we face more hype than danger. The situation is not perfect, but then there is no such thing as a perfect peace — that is an inscription you put on a headstone. That is a reality. There is greater hype than danger. The IRA has abandoned its anti-partitionist stance. The IRA, so far as we can tell, has abandoned the armed struggle. [Interruption]

A Member:

Do you believe that?

Photo of David Ervine David Ervine PUP

At least I am trying to find out. [Interruption] Whether it has or has not, I see it cowering, absolutely cowering, under the ranks of rolled-up DUP manifestos that have it shattered and frightened.

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker

You have a point of order, Mr Boyd?

Photo of Mr Norman Boyd Mr Norman Boyd NIUP

Mr Speaker, will you direct the Member to speak through the Chair.

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker

If I were strict as to whether Members spoke through the Chair, I would be off my own chair on a rather regular basis. [Interruption] At least, however, the Member has not used the word "You" to accuse the Chair of any other things. That does happen from time to time. The point is, nevertheless, well taken for all Members.

Photo of David Ervine David Ervine PUP

That interruption by the Krankies — oh well.

We do not have perfection, or anywhere near it. It also seems clear to me that it is extremely popular in my community to tell people what you think they want to hear. Of course there is a detestation of Sinn Féin and the IRA. There is a serious detestation. But what do we do — feed on that? Do we try to change the circumstances of this society? I advocate that we change the circumstances of this society, and in trying to do so, there are risks. I and members of my party take those risks every day. Two members of my party have died this year alone, specifically in relation to the arguments over "yes"or "no" and the propensity of those in the "no" camp on the paramilitary side to facilitate their lifestyles by the sale of drugs.

Whatever our feelings about the paramilitary groups of today, or the new paramilitary groups of today, those groups exist Loyalist and Republican. Those groups consist of grandfather, father and son and they will not easily be got rid of, but we must try, as best we can, to get rid of them incrementally, slowly but surely. We must give them a stake in society, a sense that there is a different way than the way that they previously did things. One might argue that the Republican movement could have given some consideration and stopped fuelling the extremes within Loyalism and Unionism. It cannot be right that, in their attempts in the past to cover up the fact that there is no united Ireland, to cover up the fact that partition has been accepted, to make things easy for themselves, the Republicans have been comfortable — [Interruption] I am finishing now if I may. Let me finish.

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker

The time is up. [Interruption] I am keeping very tight to the time for everybody.

Photo of Prof Monica McWilliams Prof Monica McWilliams NIWC

I have a sense of déjà vu about today’s motion. Not very long ago, in this Chamber, we were having a discussion about the fact that after that day’s debate had finished, we were due to go to a Business Committee meeting upstairs, and a comment was made about the facilities provided upstairs. I remember very well that Mr Sammy Wilson of the DUP interjected, saying that he would never sit down with a woman upstairs and that he would never sit down with Sinn Féin upstairs. Not only has the DUP been sitting down with Sinn Féin upstairs in the Business Committee, but it has since progressed to all of the other Committees and then into the Government, and there it stayed. I call that progress. One could be reminded of Mahatma Ghandi’s famous words "First they ignore you," — and I should remember this, particularly from my time in the Forum — "then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win."

Winning sometimes has a different connotation to the winning which I should like — the realisation that we are all in this together. Continuing to protect one’s own patch and see failure as a loss of one’s power, influence, and domination — as something one does not want to be part of — is long gone in Northern Ireland. The consensus style of politics eventually created, not a demand for surrender, but a demand for us to work together.

Naomi Chazan, who, as the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, should know more about this than anyone, recently visited Stormont. She said there are four things that can destroy any process: fear, fatigue, friction, and failure. I said before that we have interrupted the culture of failure. Friction is not necessarily an unhealthy thing, but when it creates fatigue and, more importantly, the politics of fear rather than hope, it begins to destroy people. That is what we shall not let happen.

Let me say a little about the hypocrisy I have witnessed at first hand during this process. Perhaps it was useful that Dr Paisley interjected to remind us that it is too bad if one says something in a parliamentary process. I feel one ought to take more responsibility when naming individuals, particularly when their lives are at risk and that it is more than simply "too bad" when that happens. Nevertheless, I do not wish to be in the politics of naming and shaming, but the politics of shaping and framing. However, I shall name. Before the Good Friday Agreement and the IRA’s statement about opening up its arms dumps to inspection, those who said that they were always against dialogue with Sinn Féin — the Jeffrey Donaldsons of this world — were sitting down with its members in peace seminars in Salzburg. None of us ever stated this, for we thought it helpful and useful for that to happen. Speaking about it would lead backwards rather than forwards. There have been many silences in order to protect this process.

However, the day has come for us to stand up and be counted and expose the level of hypocrisy. Not only are people sitting together in Committees, but they are also speaking together. Members of the DUP and those who have added their names as petitioners and made up the 30 are doing what we would always have wanted them to do. They have been sharing jokes and having a merry old time with other members of those Committees. It must be placed on the record that we are talking not only of these Members sitting alongside Sinn Féin members, but of their sharing in decisions and in the creation of policies. Long may it continue.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP 4:15 pm, 4th July 2000

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The hon Member for South Belfast is making very serious allegations against those who put their name to this motion. She should do the honourable thing and be specific about what she is talking about and name those she believes to be doing this, for I can give an absolute, categorical assurance that none of our party has been involved.

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker

The dilemma in my responding to your point of order is that I have of course only recently pointed out the inappropriateness of naming Members regarding specific accusations, since it frequently falls outside what is parliamentary and acceptable. The Member would be in a dilemma were she to follow my ruling on the previous arrangement only to find me making a different and unparliamentary ruling as you request.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Since we are talking about naming people, I wonder if the Member would be at all surprised to hear that Roger Hutchinson, for example, tortured Francie Molloy and myself halfway through last year with his pleading to try to save this Assembly, while at the same time telling us not to let anyone from his party see him, since his constituency would roast him. That is some of the hypocrisy of Mr Hutchinson.

Photo of Prof Monica McWilliams Prof Monica McWilliams NIWC

Some Members have already said that this is a timely debate, but I think, for two reasons, that it is very untimely. I was very disappointed to hear one Member who is in favour of this motion, condemning the violence of last night and then going on to say that it is understandable. I can understand the reasons for people embarking on a course of civil disobedience, but I can never, ever understand, nor could I ever justify, what has been going on during the past few nights. I am extremely concerned when I hear people who are prepared to support this motion seeming to have no problem whatsoever in allying themselves with that kind of behaviour. Such actions cost us dearly in lives and in money.

Enormous demands have been made, and rightly so, during this process for us to begin to work across our differences and with our differences. Why is it always that those who tabled this motion, moved this motion, and will vote for this motion have made the highest demands of the agreement that they are so very opposed to?

I take some heart from comments made after Senator Mitchell’s review. Both the Ulster Unionists and Sinn Féin produced statements on 16 November. Sinn Féin stated

"We are totally opposed to any use of force, or threat of force by others for any political purpose. We are also totally opposed to punishment attacks".

It may never be enough, as our agreement was never enough, simply to write down the words. But all of us together must take action to ensure that it stops.

That is the second reason for my considering this debate untimely: it is eating into the recess when we could be in Committees producing policies and making decisions about the protection of our young people. The Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee attempted to do so today at 1.00 pm, but it had to finish by 2.00 pm to enable us to engage in this debate. That is the kind of action that I entered the Assembly to take, not to wallow in the nostalgia of some perfect past.

David Ervine and I visited the war graves in Palestine last week and saw on a headstone "Peace, perfect peace". It is sad that it is written on a gravestone. I constantly make the point to those who feel that perfect peace is going to come out of the air and appear in front of us that they ought to start committing themselves to some course of action to ensure that, imperfect as it is, the process will continue. Anyone who remembers what we have come through in the last 30 years knows that we have come a long way. We may only be managing this conflict, but we have begun to transform it. One day we may resolve it, and then maybe we will begin to talk about the kind of perfect peace that some people, who simply fire a motion into the system, seem to feel that they will gain as a result.

Finally, if this motion is about exclusion, I will certainly vote against it. The main principle brought to the negotiations, one which we have stayed with ever since, was the principle of the politics of inclusion. Let us disagree about the past. We may even be suspicious about the future, but with all the parties, pro- and anti-Agreement, we can build a framework for that future.

Photo of Robert McCartney Robert McCartney UKUP

I support this motion, not because I am a Unionist, not because I am a member of the reformed faith — or, as some would say, a Protestant — I support it because I am a democrat. I know of no institution of government anywhere in the world that claims to have the slightest semblance of democracy, that includes in its Executive arm representatives of a political party inextricably linked with an armed terrorist group determined to remain armed. When Monica McWilliams talks on about the importance of sitting in her Committee, she entirely ignores the fact that she can do so only because the most fundamental principle of democratic government is being trampled underfoot by the threat of violence. That is the position.

It is sad that there are only two Members of the SDLP and virtually no Members of the pro-agreement Ulster Unionist Party present in the Chamber at this stage. In reality, this Assembly has become, in democratic terms, a slum. It is a slum, because the fundamental principles of democracy that would have made it an honourable institution are missing. Terror and the threat of terror have created it; it is being maintained by terror and the threat of terror; and if it falls, it will have been because terror has not been satisfied.

Let me turn to some of the remarks that have been made today, principally by Mr Pat Doherty. He talked about hypocrisy and alleged hypocrisy. There was one person he did not mention as being involved, in any circumstances, in any of this hypocrisy, and it was myself. I have never ever been accused by Sinn Féin, the SDLP or by any branch of Nationalism of being either sectarian or bigoted, but I am a democrat, and, as a democrat, I have no objection to Republicans or Nationalists putting forward their view for the future, provided they do so on a democratic basis. I have a total and absolute aversion to participating in any shape or form, either in Committees or in any other way, with the representatives of thugs and gangsters.

Three Sinn Féin Members of the Assembly have been publicly identified, in the national press and by members of the security forces, as being members of the seven-man IRA Army Council, with whom that party is inextricably linked. It is common knowledge that all the highest offices in both organisations, Sinn Féin and the IRA, are held by the same people.

Let me now turn to this piece of rhetorical gobbledegook and nonsense known as the IRA peace statement, including the alleged confidence-building measure. Monica McWilliams talks about peace, but the very first paragraph of this statement sets out the terms under which Sinn Féin/IRA will permit us to have lasting peace in Northern Ireland. You can have lasting peace provided the causes of the conflict are removed, provided Northern Ireland is wiped off the map, provided the British withdraw from Northern Ireland — whatever that may mean, whether that means the pro-Union population, or merely the British Army — and when partition is ended. Everything else in that statement is conditional on that opening paragraph.

The second paragraph dealing with the glorious Belfast Agreement, an agreement obtained by forgery, fraud and deceit, by an overwhelming public-money subscription to the processes of propaganda, by a supine press and media, which instead of preserving the integrity of the fourth estate and being objective reporters and impartial examiners of public policy, became cheerleaders for a Government-inspired policy. That is how the Belfast Agreement was arrived at.

What do we find in the second paragraph of the IRA statement? We find that the IRA considers that the Belfast Agreement provides the political context in an ongoing process that provides the potential for the removal of the causes of conflict. In other words, it views it, as it has very fairly and publicly stated, as a transitional process to a United Ireland. As long as the British Government guarantee that they will continue in that transitional mode, the IRA will continue moving to its objective of Irish unity. It will keep its guns silent, but it will not dispense with them, and it will not destroy them. Only when that agreement has been implemented in full, according to Sinn Féin/IRA specifications, will it consider putting the weapons beyond use. It does not propose, for example, in putting the weapons beyond use, to adopt either of the schemes in Gen de Chastelain’s operations — destruction or dumping. It will then talk about putting the weapons verifiably beyond use. At that point, if the political objective has been achieved and Ireland is united, if Sinn Féin has seats in the Dáil in a coalition with Fianna Fáil, if it has places in government — North and South — what need will there be for the weapons? Of course they can be dispensed with then.

To describe the confidence-building measure as a macabre political joke is to give it the benefit of language it does not deserve. A limited number of dumps are to be chosen by Sinn Féin/IRA, the contents are to be designated by Sinn Féin/IRA, and they are to be inspected in secret by two members of other Governments approved by the IRA. Those dumps will remain fully in the control of the IRA and will represent only a tiny fraction of its total arsenal, which will remain immediately available should it be needed. This peace process is driven by the principle of appeasement.

Immediately after the joint declaration of December 1993 the then Prime Minister, John Major, made a speech to the nation. He said that the only people who could give peace were the men of violence and that they could give that peace in two ways — they could either be suppressed or appeased. It was decided to appease them, and the British Government have appeased them ever since, for one reason — to keep the bombs out of the City of London. That is the driving political imperative for this whole rotten process, including this Assembly, which is an empty sop to the pro-Union people. It has neutralised them politically in terms of their majority. It fractures and violates every principle of democratic government. It is a transitional process. Like the mule, it has no pride of ancestry and no hope of posterity. That is what this Assembly is.

As Mr Doherty said, the Nationalist community has given his party a mandate, but no people, no party can have a mandate to do wrong. That was established by the Nuremberg trials in 1946, which said that even though the Nationalist Socialist Party had been elected on a overwhelming popular mandate, its representatives were not entitled to murder six million Jews and commit other acts of violence. The same principle applies to Sinn Féin. It has no business being here and it ought to be removed.

Photo of Nigel Dodds Nigel Dodds DUP 4:30 pm, 4th July 2000

The motion has been tabled by those who believe that apologists for gunmen should have no place in government. The vote this evening will be a test for every Member of the House. Do they want a Government involving IRA/Sinn Féin or a Government who are exclusively and totally committed to peaceful and democratic means?

We have been castigated about stunts. What greater political stunt is there than the empty Benches of our political opponents? Having run away from their electoral manifesto commitments, they are now running away from the argument. Beaten in the argument, they cannot stay to hear the debate and face the music. The debate clearly shows, as the vote will show, that the majority of Unionists in the House do not agree with Sinn Féin/IRA being in government. One of David Trimble’s main policies in allowing Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, the representatives of gunmen, to be in government is not supported by the majority of Unionists in the elected Northern Ireland Assembly. Indeed, it is not supported by the vast majority of the Unionists outside the House.

Secondly, the vote will demonstrate that there is no cross-community support for David Trimble or for Seamus Mallon to be First and Deputy First Ministers. They require 50% plus one of the votes of the House. I challenge them, if they are so confident, to resign their posts and put themselves forward for re-election. When the Assembly was reconvened Mr Mallon went through the charade of pretending that he had not resigned, rather than putting the matter to the vote. Such honour. We are lectured about morality, honour, honesty and truth, yet, the proponents of the agreement are not prepared to go through the democratic process because they know that they do not have support in the House.

Mr Trimble spent 80% of his time attacking the DUP and other anti-agreement Unionists. Mr Seamus Close — Mr two per cent of the vote in the Alliance Party — spent his time attacking the Unionists in the House. The smaller parties once again allowed themselves to be used as fodder for the main pro-agreement parties. [Interruption].

As the Member said, they are nodding dogs. The reality is that, rather than attacking Sinn Féin/IRA for what it is doing in the streets in murdering and maiming, some Members prefer to attack democrats. They prefer to attack the Unionists who are simply using the procedures of the House in a perfectly democratic and legitimate way. Indeed, the procedure — the means by which we are debating this motion — was inserted in the agreement and in the legislation by the pro-agreement parties, who now have the audacity to talk about it as some sort of political stunt. Talk about hypocrisy.

Mr Trimble and the Ulster Unionists censure and attack DUP Ministers. Of course, they will censure and attack all of us for taking the stand that we do. However, not a word was said to Sinn Féin/IRA about its refusal to fly the national flag or to support the RUC, nothing was said about the murder of Ed McCoy, the gun-running in Florida or the bombing in Ballymurphy at Glenalena Crescent when clearly the IRA was involved.

Dr Paisley mentioned the maimings. Between 1 January and 11 June this year there were 111 paramilitary attacks, 21 Republican shootings and 24 Republican assaults. During this time there was a fully stocked IRA arsenal at the behest of IRA/Sinn Féin. However, not a word was said to Sinn Féin. There was no censure from Mr Trimble. There were no attacks from the Ulster Unionist Party or its colleagues in government. There were plenty of attacks on those of us who are standing by our electoral manifesto commitments and doing what we pledged to do in the Assembly.

Let us look at the issue of decommissioning. We were told that there would be no cherry-picking in the Belfast Agreement, but what happened to 22 May deadline? Mr McGimpsey lectured us when the Assembly was suspended, saying that unless something happened by 22 May and all weapons were disposed of, everything would come crashing down. What happened to that deadline? It was arbitrarily and totally dismissed. Talk about cherry-picking. That fundamental aspect of the agreement was simply set aside, but the people were not consulted. It was never put to a vote. We now have in its place a deal that allows Sinn Féin/IRA to be in government. There are no guns up front, nor is there a requirement to hand in guns at any time.

In ‘The Times’ of 9 May Michael Gove put it accurately when he said

"There is no commitment to the destruction of any weaponry, no commitment to tell anyone just what was in [the IRA] arsenal, no commitment [by the IRA] to open anything other than a few of what could be very many arms dumps, and no commitment not to use any of its weapons again. Anyone who thinks this is decommissioning, as defined by this Government for so long, deserves to be committed themselves."

That is the situation. At the time of the Hillsborough deal Mr Trimble said

"This statement raises more questions than it answers."

He never got any answers to his questions. He said that we need to know what "beyond use" actually means. Of course, he did get the answer, but he got it from Tony Blair, and that satisfied him. Mr Blair said in the House of Commons that he believed there still had to be decommissioning and permanently putting beyond use, but what use are the words of Tony Blair? Have we not learnt by now that his promises and pledges are totally and absolutely worthless? There was no word from P O’Neill or from the IRA, but Mr Trimble was so eager to get back into Government with Sinn Féin/IRA that he grasped those words, meaningless as they are and without any certainty, timetable or clarity.

We are told that progress is being made. Mr Trimble asks what the DUP has achieved. Of course, we have been honest. We have said throughout that there will never be any handing over or decommissioning by the IRA. What has Mr Trimble done? What is this confidence-building measure? We have two gentlemen, one of whom spoke recently at a Sinn Féin/IRA rally in west Belfast. The other, who claims to have been down in the dumps inspecting IRA arms, can hardly get up Downing Street. This is certainly a confidence-building measure for IRA gunmen. They will be very confident, knowing that all their guns are nicely, safely and securely stored in dumps down south and given legitimacy by the Irish Republic. They are now protected; nobody is to go near them, to touch them or do anything with them without the say-so of the IRA.

The two gentlemen concerned did not tell us, or perhaps they do not know, how many arms dumps there are. They did not tell us, or perhaps they do not know, what percentage of the arms is actually contained in these dumps. Perhaps they were not told — and we certainly were not told — where these dumps are. Gen de Chastelain, who we were told is the guarantor of this process, was not even involved. He was simply told. Crucially, these dumps and the IRA weaponry within are still under the total control of the IRA. They can go back to using their weaponry whenever they choose. On 10 May Dennis Kennedy wrote in ‘The Irish Times

"The so-called confidence-building measure proposed by the IRA for the independent inspection of a number … of arms dumps is meaningless in terms of the decommissioning of illegally-held weapons, and indeed is of much greater significance in terms of recognition of the IRA’s right to hold those arms."

That is the reality of the situation. Mr Trimble tells us that this is a first step, but Bertie Ahern let the cat out of the bag. He said that this is the successful end of the process. This is as good as it gets. There is going to be no more handover of weapons. In the meantime people can be murdered, maimed, threatened and intimidated.

Martin McGuinness and Bairbre de Brún are in government, doing as they please, as we said they would. They refuse to fly the national flag or co-operate with the police, and nothing is done about it. This process does not mean decommissioning in any shape or form. I recall the words of a gentleman who said, back in January when this proposal to put arms beyond use was first floated,

"There is a lot of silly talk. The only thing that matters is the scheme. The scheme refers to destruction."

That is quite right. Who said it? It was Mr David Trimble on 14 January this year. What did this silly talk refer to? The idea that weapons could be permanently inaccessible, rather than destroyed, and put in secure underground bunkers — the very thing that he has now settled for.

Many Ulster Unionist Members will try to run away from the vote by abstaining. They lack the courage to come here and vote for what they agreed at Hillsborough. What does it say to their colleagues and partners in Government when they are not prepared to vote publicly and openly for what they agreed in the Hillsborough deal? At the same time they deliberately refuse to vote to exclude IRA/Sinn Féin although while they are content to attack the DUP and other Unionists. There is a clear choice in this debate — a vote for the IRA or against the IRA. There is no neutral or abstentionist ground.

Photo of Derek Hussey Derek Hussey UUP 4:45 pm, 4th July 2000

I support the motion. I realise that there may be a quixotic-type element to the motion. Mr Alban Maginness argued that the motion is doomed to failure. Unfortunately, it is doomed to failure by the inaction of the SDLP to uphold democratic principles and to work with the constitutional parties in this Chamber.

My rationale in this debate will differ from that of other Members taking part, and I hope that Members will respect that. Members will know that I am not an anti-agreement Unionist. My understanding of the Belfast Agreement was that there would be pain and gain for all involved in the process. It was on that basis that I reluctantly gave my support to the agreement. However, at the same time, I hope that all will recognise that I have been consistent on where my bottom line lay — the major gain that I understood would be forthcoming from the Republican movement. The progressive removal of its arsenal of terror from our society was to have been completed by 22 May last.

It was the IRA murder of a very close friend that persuaded me to enter local politics. Over the years so many people in my locality have been placed in an early grave by Republicans. I believe that the cycle of terror, murder, violence and community upheaval for political ideology has to end, and the means of its continuance have to be removed from society. I found one of Mr Close’s sentences very interesting. In it he said "if permanent peace were established". That lets us know that Mr Close does not believe that there is a permanent peace.

The first item on my personal manifesto for election to this House was, and remains, the demand that to be acceptable in Executive positions requires a beginning to actual decommissioning. Members will know that it was on this issue that I asked to be relieved of my Deputy Whip duties in my party group last November and further, that I opposed a return to this Assembly after suspension.

To broaden the issue slightly, I personally have no problem with the establishment of cross-border bodies for the mutual benefit of our people. Indeed, I represent my district council on a cross-border body, and I believe that it is wrong not to have Unionist voices in such bodies. Indeed, as I look round a rather depleted House, I recognise Members present whom I have seen at various cross-border events, initiatives and conferences. Further, I have no problem with inclusive power-sharing institutions of Government for Northern Ireland, but those in Executive positions in such an Administration must be clearly adhering to normal democratic credentials.

IRA/Sinn Féin constantly refers to its electoral mandate. This electoral mandate has been recognised. Its Members sit in Assembly seats and take positions on the various Assembly Committees, together with representatives of other parties. This enables them to represent their constituents and to fulfil their electoral mandate. However, without a verified beginning to actual decommissioning, how can we accept that there is a proper fulfilment of the normal democratic credentials that are a necessary prerequisite to Executive responsibility?

I contend that the Ulster Unionist Party has fully, sincerely and painfully adhered to the requirements of the Belfast Agreement, while IRA/Sinn Féin has failed, so far, to live up to its side of the agreement. Mention was made of the IRA statement. That statement regarding the placing of some arms in some dumps with regular inspection is I believe, only a blocking measure to decommissioning as established by the requirements of the Northern Ireland Arms Decommissioning Act 1997.

I further believe that the present situation offers nothing more than the immorally titillating offer of the prospect, perhaps, of Republicans turning their backs on terrorism with the eventual possible decommissioning of their armoury and maybe the dismantling of their military wing. Republicans continue to prevaricate on whether or not they are prepared to become democrats in any normally accepted interpretation of the term. The Republican movement has had ample time to decide in which way it is prepared to go.

Ulster Unionists have not cherry-picked the agreement. Why should Republicans be allowed to do so continually? Let us see a beginning to actual decommissioning. Let us see an end to ongoing murderous and criminal activities. Let us see proper reciprocation from IRA/Sinn Féin on its side of the agreement.

I am reminded, as I close, of some words from the Secretary of State when he said that Northern Ireland would become a byword for political failure unless we make the agreement work. Maybe Mr Mandelson should consider the failure of our Westminster Government to ensure that democrats could move on without unrepentant terrorists, as promised by our Prime Minister. Whose failure was Mr Mandelson addressing? Sinn Féin does not enjoy my confidence.

I support the motion.

Photo of Ian Paisley Jnr Ian Paisley Jnr DUP

My Colleague from North Belfast has correctly said that the hour of decision has now arrived in the Assembly. The Assembly will be taking a crucial vote tonight. It will decide whether this House wishes to continue with the armed representatives of mass thuggery in the Government of Northern Ireland, or whether it wants to take a step in the direction of democracy and expel those people from the Government. It is likely that the former decision will be taken.

Let it be made clear that this House will be taking a decision that does not have the confidence of the majority of the Unionist people’s representatives. It will not have the blessing of Members of my party, or of Members of the so-called negative anti-agreement parties, but following, as I do, the speech from the Member for West Tyrone, it will not have the blessing of the majority of Unionists in this House tonight. That message must be heard across Northern Ireland and be in every Member’s heart as he leaves the Chamber this evening.

We could stand here and bandy about section 30 of the Northern Ireland Act which says that no one should be involved in the Government of Northern Ireland who is not committed to non-violence. We could bandy around the Code of Conduct and the Pledge of Office contained in the Belfast Agreement. The issue is, as the proverbial dogs in the street know, that Sinn Féin/IRA is not fit to be in the Government of Northern Ireland. Indeed, its pathetic rebuttal of our motion today is the clearest possible indication, and its absence from the House is not about contempt for the DUP. Yes, it would like the media to think that. Neither is its absence about contempt for "No" parties or about any contempt it may have for me. Sinn Féin/IRA’s absence reflects the fact that it has run out of arguments to defend its now indefensible position. It does not have the courage or the neck or the ability to come here and argue its position.

Abraham Lincoln said that what is morally wrong can never be politically right. The reality is that it is morally wrong to put gunmen into any institution of Government. We could never, even with the best advocate in the world, produce one argument in favour of its being politically right to put those people in the Government of Northern Ireland.

It is little wonder we see violence on our streets today and saw violence on our streets last night. The Assembly, like it or not, has sent out the message to thugs across Northern Ireland that violence pays. It is little wonder that people are marching up and down streets burning cars and buses when the message to them is that their vote is worthless but their violence might be noticed. After all, it was the violence of others that propelled them into the Government of Northern Ireland.

The Ulster Unionist party leader came to the House today and attempted to sell dodgy merchandise. He came to the House as an advocate for Sinn Féin/IRA. Sinn Féin put up a pathetic rebuttal, but after that pathetic rebuttal it got Mr Trimble to be its lawyer and advocate its case. Indeed, he attempted to do that. Mr Trimble’s rebuttal was not only pathetic, but it represented the pathetic state that he, the leader of a majority party in Northern Ireland, has found himself in. Did people elect him to be the mouthpiece of Provisional IRA/Sinn Féin? Did people elect his party to stand behind Sinn Féin and protect it? I do not think so. But that is exactly what he did in the Chamber today.

Trimble, for all his self-proclaimed legal skills, his self-adulation, his knowledge and so-called depth, either did not check the small print before signing up to the agreement and to the Hillsborough Agreement, or he got so distracted in checking the commas and the semicolons that he missed the point of what he was doing — propelling terrorists into Government. Mr Trimble forgot that possession is nine tenths of the law. Now he has given members of IRA/Sinn Féin possession of Government offices. Look at the difficulty that we, the majority representatives, are facing in trying to get those people out — a difficulty of Mr Trimble’s making.

I am not surprised by Mr Trimble’s position here today. After all he has argued at least six different positions already on decommissioning. First of all in 1994 the Ulster Unionist Party declared that it would require total decommissioning from the Provisional IRA/Sinn Féin before it could even enter talks. Less than a year later the party took a second position, reducing its requirement under the Washington Three principle and requiring IRA decommissioning only to start before Sinn Féin could enter the political process.

Then position three in 1996 was that the party had to accept the Mitchell compromise, which required decommissioning to take place alongside the political talks. Position four came in 1998. The party had signed up to the Belfast Agreement, in which all participants reaffirmed their commitment to total disarmament, and decommissioning would take place by May of this year. Position five came in November 1999 when the party was asked to change its policy again to allow the Executive to be established on the understanding that decommissioning would follow shortly after. When it did not follow we reached the latest position — position six — the one that says that the IRA’s arms are now beyond use and Mr Trimble’s greasy stranglehold on Sinn Féin will eventually squeeze from it more concessions on this issue.

The Ulster Unionist position on the issue of putting armed, unrepentant terrorists into the Government of Northern Ireland has not slipped once or changed twice — it has altered, six times, in total, , while Sinn Féin’s position has remained rock solid. Shame on those Unionists who have allowed this to happen.

There are normally 18 perfectly good reasons sitting under that Gallery for Sinn Féin’s not being in the Government of Northern Ireland. But tonight they have run away.

Sinn Fein is not fit to be in the Government in Northern Ireland, not because of its terrorism in the past, but because of its continuing terrorism.

What is the curriculum vitae of the Minister of Education? Between 1971 and 1973 he was the officer who commanded the IRA’s Derry brigade and was responsible for destroying more than 150 of the city’s shops, leaving only 20 trading. His CV goes on: in 1973 he was arrested in Donegal, close to a car filled with a 250lb bomb and 500 rounds of ammunition, and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. The following year he was arrested and charged with membership of the Provisional IRA for which he was imprisoned in Belfast’s Crumlin Road jail in 1976. His ignoble past continues.

In 1998 he said that he would never apologise to anyone for supporting the Provisional IRA. As was mentioned earlier, as a Minister in the Government of Northern Ireland, he advocated that people should not help the police to catch the Omagh bombers. Is that the example that we want to give to the people of this country? Is he the sort of person who should be running a Department? If so, shame on this House; shame on the so-called democratic process; shame on democracy.

Photo of Mr Patrick Roche Mr Patrick Roche NIUP 5:00 pm, 4th July 2000

The motion to expel Sinn Féin/IRA from the Executive has the support of every law-abiding citizen in Northern Ireland who is genuinely committed to democracy. Sinn Fein/IRA is committed to terrorism, not merely as a means of securing its political objective of Irish unity, but as an end in itself.

Patrick Pearse is the fountain head of the so-called Irish Republican movement. Pearse’s political outlook was based on the morally disgusting philosophy that bloodshed is cleansing and sanctifying. The Members of Sinn Féin/IRA are the political offspring of Pearse. The so-called Republican movement is responsible for the murders of 2,140 people and the injury of about 30,000 people in the past 30 years of Sinn Féin/IRA terrorism. Such terrorism was driven not by a legitimate political objective, but by nothing more commendable than deep-rooted sectarian hatred.

By the early 1990s, Sinn Féin/IRA was on the edge of defeat by the RUC. That should be put firmly on the record. It was decisively documented in Jack Holland’s recently published ‘Hope Against History’. The position has been turned around by the implementation of the Belfast Agreement, and the Patten report will systematically destroy the RUC, contrary to the assurances that Mr Trimble and Mr Taylor gave to the previous Ulster Unionist council meeting.

Two members of Sinn Féin/IRA, assisted by a convicted murderer, now form part of the Executive that governs the law-abiding citizens of Northern Ireland without the surrender of a single bullet to lawful authority. The recent so-called inspection of three arms dumps is not a step towards decommissioning; it is the de facto legitimisation by the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Republic, of the retention by Sinn Féin/IRA of a terrorist arsenal, while two of its members hold seats on the Executive. The so-called inspection is the very opposite of a step towards decommissioning. That is what Mr Trimble and those who support him have signed, sealed and delivered to the Unionist citizens of Northern Ireland.

One of Mr Trimble’s advisers recently described the UUP leader to me as a strategic genius who had wrong-footed both the SDLP and Sinn Féin/IRA. The UUP leader has retreated from every strategic position that he has adopted since negotiations began in 1996 and, in the process, he has conceded to Nationalists virtually everything of significance that is necessary for the maintenance of the Union.

Mr Trimble, I need hardly tell this Assembly, is no strategic genius. The UUP leadership has conceded a form of government for Northern Ireland that is an affront to common decency. Why is that the case? The answer is very simple. There is no book written about the Provisional IRA that does not mention Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness as the leaders of that terrorist organisation. But what precisely is attributed to them in that capacity?

David Sharrock and Mark Davenport, on page 108 of their book, ‘Man of War, Man of Peace,’ state categorically that in July 1972 Gerry Adams was responsible for the discipline and the day-to-day running of the entire Belfast brigade of the Provisional IRA and that he was among those who planned "bloody Friday". To my knowledge, this claim by Sharrock and Davenport has never been legally contested by Gerry Adams despite the fact that the allegation associates him with one of the most morally outrageous acts of the twentieth century.

The same considerations apply to Martin McGuinness. On 24 October 1990 Patrick Gillespie was blown to bits as a human bomb at Coshquin. The bomb was detonated by the IRA while Mr Gillespie was strapped into the driver’s seat. According to Jack Holland in his book ‘Hope Against History’ Martin McGuinness was the "overall commander" of the Derry Provisionals who were responsible for this "act of total barbarity." Dr Edward Daly stated that the use of Patrick Gillespie as a "human bomb" marked "a new threshold of evil for the IRA" — and that was as recent as 1990.

Jack Holland states, on page 132 of his book, that under Martin McGuinness "the Derry active service units had devastated the city, reducing its downtown area to streets of bombed and boarded-up buildings", — a point that has just been made. He also states that the Derry Provisionals, under the leadership of McGuinness, had "also been among the first to carry out a ruthless murder campaign against off-duty UDR men."

One of the victims of that ruthless campaign was a 10-year old child killed on 8 February 1978 when an IRA booby-trap bomb exploded beneath her father’s car. The bomb killed the child, her father and badly injured her young brother. The children were being taken to school by their father who was a part-time member of the UDR. It is totally unacceptable that individuals with this type of record should be in a democratic Assembly never mind in an Executive regardless of what mandate they claim to have.

This is a moment of truth for any party in the Assembly that claims to be committed to the practice of democracy. The SDLP has long ago failed the test of commitment to democracy. The virtual absence — now total — of SDLP participation in this debate demonstrates its contempt for democracy. Under the leadership of Mr Hume and Mr Mallon the SDLP is indistinguishable from Sinn Féin/IRA. The SDLP is, at this very moment, giving unqualified support to Sinn Féin/IRA in relation to the holding of a terrorist arsenal while two members of Sinn Féin/IRA are in the Executive.

Photo of Ian Paisley Jnr Ian Paisley Jnr DUP

For the record of this House, while the SDLP Benches are empty the bar is full.

Photo of Mr Patrick Roche Mr Patrick Roche NIUP

That is well worth putting on the record. It is remarkable that Mr Hume and Mr Mallon are so committed to supporting Sinn Féin/IRA that they are prepared to see the demise of the SDLP due to the political creditability they have given to Sinn Féin/IRA. Mr Trimble has claimed that this debate is irresponsible. The political irresponsibility lies with Mr Trimble. The UUP leadership has broken every election pledge that his party has made to the Unionist electorate, in order to accommodate the demands of Sinn Féin/IRA backed by the SDLP. A debate about the issue of decommissioning cannot be a matter of political irresponsibility. The issue goes right to the heart of democracy and the rule of law. The irresponsibility of Mr Trimble’s forming an Executive with Sinn Féin/IRA has now put him in a minority in the Assembly and among the Unionist electorate.

The building of a proper system of devolved government in Northern Ireland based on democracy requires two fundamental conditions to be met. First, a Unionist leadership fixated with the appeasement of terrorism must be replaced. Secondly, there must be no place in the Government of Northern Ireland for the members of political parties committed to terrorism and the threat of terrorism. This is a motion that must be supported by every right-thinking person in the Assembly.

Photo of William McCrea William McCrea DUP

We must not forget that while we are here to debate this important motion on the exclusion of IRA/Sinn Féin there are many people in society who are still carrying the wounds of 30 years of terrorism. There are still widows carrying broken hearts and children longing for the return of their fathers, which, because of terrorism, will never happen. But this does seem not to count to many people. Many elected representatives of the Unionist community have given a new meaning to the letters IRA "I ran away". They could not face up to the reality of the debate, and how could they? How could any Ulster Unionist defend the putting of IRA murderers into Government over the very people whom they murdered for 30 years?

And how could Sinn Féin have the brass neck to defend the catalogue of murder and destruction for which it was responsible for over 30 years? For example, Martin McGuinness was mentioned. He seemed somewhat edgy today when he happened to see a photograph of himself — he thought that there was blood on his hands. I remind Martin McGuinness of a leading article in the ‘Irish News’ on 23 June 1986, in which he said

"Freedom can only be gained at the point of an IRA rifle. I apologise to no one for saying that we support and admire the freedom fighters of the IRA. In the whole of Western Europe there is not a revolutionary or a social organisation that enjoys as much popular support as we do, and we must be conscious of that fact and build on that. The British and their native collaborators know that the IRA is out to win. Republicanism will not be satisfied with another glorious failure."

He went on

"Resistance has deepened and our absolute commitment to victory has provoked a similar commitment on the part of the British to destroy us."

People are edgy about Martin’s past, and they tell us that we should not bring this up, but those are actually his words — not ours. He said "I apologise to no one"; he said "We support and admire the freedom fighters of the IRA"; he said "Freedom can only be gained at the point of an IRA rifle".

By his own words he stands condemned. The tragedy is that behind every one of those murders is a personal catalogue of pain and heartache.

Nobody wants to know about it. You raise hackles if you happen to remind them about the past, but we are not talking about the past only — we are also talking about the present. We are talking about a situation that exists to this very day, because the McCoy family carry the pain and the hurt of the murder of their loved one. I wonder if the gentlemen who sail around the world at British expense to look at these bunkers can find the gun that murdered Mr McCoy there, or is that one staying outside to be used the next time they want to shoot someone.

The last act of courage the Provos wanted to carry out before going in to ceasefire mode was to wipe out not only me but also my wife and children. They wanted to wipe the seven of us out, thinking it a heroic act. They could have slaughtered the complete family.

I want to tell the IRA that, as far as we are concerned, they may have made us bleed for 30 years, but they have never made us bow. We shall never bow the knee to Republicanism. We never did so to Adams, when he led the Provisional IRA’s Belfast brigade, or to McGuinness, when he led the Londonderry brigade. These men’s record and the stain of innocent blood which cries from the ground for justice today are well written. It stands not only in the history books, but on the record of God Himself for the Day of Judgement. It stands on their conscience, for they know exactly what they have done and why.

I remember looking at a photograph of a family in Castlederg. It was a wedding photograph showing a bride, bridegroom, best man and bridesmaid. The only person left alive was the bride, for the groom was slaughtered by the Provos, blown to bits like the best man and bridesmaid. What was their crime? They happened to be members of families that belonged to the security forces, and, as far as the IRA was concerned, they ought to be destroyed and slaughtered. That is the sickening reality.

What has this country, mighty Britain, done? What has David Trimble done? They have rushed to elevate them and get them into power. They have set them over the people they slaughtered, over whose graves they walk, whom they mock and sneer at when they drive down the street in their ministerial car. Do not call that democracy for it is low and sickening and, as far as the people are concerned, repugnant.

The First Minister, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, lambasted the Ulster Democratic Unionist Party for eight minutes and five seconds out of his 10 minutes. He was going so well that both his wings were flapping, and he was about to take off. He was full of energy because of the venom he spat out at the DUP. When it came to the last minute to speak against the Provos, his voice was silent. He looked over sheepishly at his friends. His feet were not jingle-jangling as they usually do, shifting from one side to the other. He looked over at them and let out a little bleat, a little baa to his friends in Sinn Féin, but his venom was clear. The general public will have heard it today, and those that watch proceedings on television will have seen exactly where his venom is directed. He even turned on the Orangemen in his own district, for Drumcree is in his constituency. The truth, when the history books are written, will remind us that David Trimble did more to stop the parade going down the road than anyone else. If it were got down the road, he had to be sure he would get the credit, the laurels or be pushed to the top of the ladder of success.

We are chided for being Unionists, but I make no apology to anyone for saying I am proud to be one. I am proud to be elected on behalf of Unionist people in the constituency of Mid Ulster. The people have provided us with a mandate to speak on this issue today. We promised the people, and where are the pledges? Of course Mr Taylor’s is probably somewhere in his pocket — which is bound to be bulging now — along with a great deal of other literature on the police and other matters. There are so many papers that he is bound to have them in the dining room cabinet.

As far as the people of Ulster are concerned, these men should realise one thing: the day of accounting, when they will stand before the electorate, is coming, and the electorate will tell these people that they have no confidence whatsoever in them. Today a majority of Unionists are clearly united. We accept that we have our differences on individual policies, but one thing galvanises and brings us together. It is love, not for party, but for country. We love our country and want to see genuine peace come to Ulster, not the peace of the grave given to us over 30 years by the Provos.

Mr Trimble may have his Provo friends, but he should remember that by reaching out his hands to embrace them he is rejecting his Unionist family. It is interesting to notice in Mr Trimble’s speeches that he does not talk about the Unionist or pro-Unionist family any more. The only thing he talks about is the pro-agreement family. Why? Because he has forgotten Unionism; he has turned his back on Unionism; he tramps it in the ground, and he embraces those that want to destroy everything that the tradition of Unionism stands for. On this day in July 2000 I am proud that we are able to take our stand against the murderers — Sinn Féin/IRA — and I trust that the motion will be passed with a resounding vote by this Chamber.

Photo of Mr Fraser Agnew Mr Fraser Agnew UUAP 5:15 pm, 4th July 2000

Along with Colleagues here, I would like to refer to the murder of Edmund McCoy, which happened, within 24 hours of the Ulster Unionist Council’s decision to allow IRA/Sinn Féin back into Government. He was murdered by two close associates of Mr Gerry Kelly, a Member of this Assembly. Mr McCoy was a drug dealer who had refused to make a payment of around £10,000 to the Provisional IRA. As a result, he was executed by two members of a hit squad who were under the control of the officer commanding the north Belfast IRA. During this period, the IRA has shot and mutilated two Roman Catholics, they have exiled another fifteen, and three of its members have also been convicted in Florida for obtaining arms. Perhaps one of those guns was the gun that killed Edmund McCoy.

In recent days, of course, the Provo quartermaster in Ballymurphy injured himself and his own father when preparing an explosive that many believe was meant for the RUC. Those who told the world that the IRA’s war was over failed to tell the world that the murder of Roman Catholics by the IRA was OK and would not be seen as a breach of the IRA ceasefire. When the RUC Chief Constable publicly stated that the IRA was responsible for the murder of Mr Charles Bennett, an alleged informer, the then Secretary of State, Dr Mowlam, jumped to defend the Provos and dishonestly declared that the IRA ceasefire was still intact. Kangaroo courts, mutilations, expulsions, intimidations, punishment beatings, drug dealing, robbery, protection rackets and even murder are all part of this ‘Good Terrorist Agreement’. IRA/Sinn Féin is the greatest threat to peace in Northern Ireland, particularly as a vast number of Protestants now believe that terrorism and violence pays.

Clearly, if it had not been for the criminal activities and the physical-force mentality and tradition of Irish Republicanism, they would not be in Government today. I suggest that there is probably not a Unionist in this House today — and I am talking about all shades of Unionism — who does not find Sinn Féin objectionable. The argument that the RUC was unacceptable to Nationalists, and that that, in turn, led to Sinn Féin/IRA’s being requested to take direct action against anti-social elements is, in itself, an almost acceptable one. However, how could Sinn Féin — although they are obviously not going to answer because they have all cleared off — tell us what member of the Nationalist community came to them and asked for Andrew Kearney to be shot in front of his partner and a two-week-old baby because he had been in a fight. In fact he had beaten up the IRA commander in Ardoyne a few weeks earlier.

Is the Gárda Sióchána an acceptable police service? Thirteen members of the Gárda Sióchána have been murdered by Republican terrorists over the last 30 years. In the Irish Republic the IRA has been murdering, beating and exiling people. Gárda Gerry McCabe was murdered by some of the IRA men who escaped from the Maze prison, along with who? None other than our old friend Gerry Kelly, back in 1983. Was Gárda McCabe a good police officer? Then, of course, in April this year two registered, card-carrying members of Sinn Féin were caught in Walkinstown with a loaded gun and details of a leading Dublin criminal, who was non-political. The file is now before the DPP in the Irish Republic.

If Sinn Féin/IRA is policing the Nationalist community, could its members tell us why a senior member of the Republican movement, a former IRA prisoner convicted of bombing, is now a self-confessed child molester? He was allowed to remain in Barcroft Park in Newry after he had admitted sexually abusing children in that Republican controlled estate. Was it because he had been the key player in running a smear campaign against former IRA terrorist, Eamon Collins, who was murdered by the IRA last year, after he, in turn, had fallen foul of his former colleagues? Does this inaction against a self-confessed child-molester mean that if you are a member of Sinn Féin/IRA your crimes against the community are acceptable?

Was the former Sinn Féin spokesman for drugs shot when he was caught in possession of a large quantity of drugs in Londonderry in 1995? No, he was not; he simply resigned from the party. Were the IRA joyriders who killed three young children and their mother on the Falls Road in 1976 shot by the IRA? Of course they were not. That particular incident led to the formation of the Peace People. Was Gerry Adams’s bodyguard, Chico Hamilton, shot last year when he was charged with receiving £70,000 of stolen goods? Of course he was not. They get off with these crimes. It seems that Sinn Féin has been rewarded for doing wrong, and it will continue to do wrong while being rewarded. Sinn Féin is not fit for Government — its members are mafia godfathers who have feathered their nests on the backs of their victims.

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir UUP

In rising to support the motion, I share the disappointment at the vacant Benches before us. If the First Minister, in particular, is still in the Building he is welcome to come and listen to my speech. I am also disappointed that Irish Nationalism has reverted to its traditional role of abstentionism. It seems that on all sides there are many in the House who not only do not want to hear the truth, but cannot handle it — and that is the reason they are absent.

It is significant that we debate this on 4 July — American Independence Day — because America was expressly founded on the notion that all men were created equal. To use the words of Abraham Lincoln, their aim was to create

"government of the people, by the people, and for the people."

We meet today to determine whether our Government is one that too can meet that high democratic ideal, whether a Government that contains terrorists can truly be for all the people.

Some have said this is a form of futile debate. I agreed in part with the first 55 seconds of Seamus Close’s remarks when he said that it was important to debate this matter today. If he is correct and indeed if others are correct and, as we suspect it will be, this motion is defeated, the people who have supported it will go away and use other democratic means, such as the powers of persuasion and argument, to win the day. If some of the Members opposite, in other circumstances, do not get their way, what tactics will they use?

They will use the threat of violence. Power for them comes from the barrel of a gun. It is the ability of democrats to restrict themselves to exclusively peaceful means that makes them democrats, and that is why this debate today is so important. This is not just a matter of the future threat that terrorists can pose to society, it is also a matter of the present activities of the IRA and other paramilitary organisations.

The one thing people did not vote for in the referendum, whether they voted "Yes" or "No", was an armed peace. The majority of people want to see real peace in this society. I have grown up as part of a generation which has known nothing but the troubles. I yearn for peace, but it will not be peace at any price. It will not be peace achieved by putting terrorists into government.

How then has the IRA, in particular, repaid the people who took a chance on it two years ago? Rather than cementing peace since the agreement has been signed, the IRA and other paramilitary organisations have been involved in recruitment and targeting. We have seen them maintain a private army. There has not been any form of disbandment of the IRA. We have seen them maintain a private mafia which has carried out criminal activity, extortion and bank robbery. We have seen them with vigilantes on the streets, intimidating people out of their homes, telling people to leave the country, breaking limbs and committing murder. However, we have not seen them undertake a single act of decommissioning. Indeed, thanks to the information we have of the guns that were smuggled in from Florida and goodness knows where else, the IRA — rather than decommissioning — sits with more weapons today than it did on the day the agreement was reached. However, we are told to keep our fingers crossed, that perhaps things have changed, that since the IRA has been allowed into government it has turned over a new leaf, in spite of the many opportunities that it has scorned in the past.

Significantly, since it has been let into government three things have happened. First; and I am sure we are all very grateful for this, it has again appointed someone to talk to the de Chastelain Commission in the same manner as last December and in the same manner as discussed endlessly for over a year during the talks process. The UVF has also had an interlocutor during most of that period, yet in spite of all the talk not a single weapon has been produced. I share Derek Hussey’s view that this device was merely a blocking mechanism to deal with decommissioning by discussing it rather than delivering on it.

Secondly, the major development, trumpeted by many in the media, was the inspection of the arms dumps. That well-known opponent of the agreement, Mr Andy Wood, a former press officer of the Northern Ireland Office — we all know about Mr Ramaphosa and his sympathies with the IRA — said

"I have to say that Martti looked as if he’d have trouble getting down to inspect his shoelaces, never mind an arms bunker. If Saddam Hussein could run rings round a United Nations weapons inspection team with real experts in it, you have to ask what chance do the Finn and the South African have?"

We are told that this arms inspection has happened. We are not told when it happened, where it happened, how many weapons were in this bunker, or how many dumps were inspected. We are not told the nature of these weapons, or even when the dumps are going to be inspected again. What we have been told, in terms of decommissioning, gives vagueness a bad name. It is clearly insufficient. To use the words of Mr Wood again:

"puts me uncomfortably in mind of the old crack about Christopher Columbus, when he left he did not know where he was going, when he got there he did not know where he was, and when he got back he did not know where he had been or what he’d seen."

This is what we have gained out of the arms dumps, and it has been a remarkable revelation to us all in the House. We have gained the very important information that the IRA has lots of guns. Forgive me, but I had always assumed that, as it has committed mass murder in Northern Ireland for the last 30 years, it had lots of guns. This to me does not build a great deal of confidence, certainly not confidence in the current process. It is clearly an attempt to create a smokescreen to avoid the real issue of decommissioning. In none of its statements does the IRA indicate if or when it is going to decommission.

Remember that in the run up to the suspension of the Assembly in February those were the two questions that Seamus Mallon posed to us. Yet we do not have satisfactory answers to the test that he put, let alone the test that any self-respecting Unionist should put.

The third crucial thing which has happened since the Ulster Unionist Council vote on 27 May was the murder of Edmund McCoy. Not only do we have Sinn Féin in Government without a single bullet having been handed in, without a single effort having been made permanently to commit themselves to exclusively peaceful means, but we have a party in the Government which is not even on ceasefire. That, to me, is totally unacceptable.

The choice that faces us today is one that should draw support from every self-respecting democrat here and not just from those who have been against the agreement, or simply from Unionists, whether they support the agreement or not. Every self-respecting democrat should know that Government based on having terrorism within it is a Government which is ultimately doomed to failure and corruption. I urge, albeit to empty Benches, the SDLP Members, even at this late moment, to have a Damascus Road conversion and to support this motion so that we too can have a Government of the people, by the people and for the people, a Government on the basis of democrats alone with terrorists expelled.

I urge everyone to support the motion.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell DUP 5:30 pm, 4th July 2000

I rise to support the motion, and I do so with mixed feelings. Since the signing of the Belfast Agreement we have heard much from those who are very voluble when they are here, but are absent today, about the need for inclusivity in this process. They constantly lecture us and tell us that our contribution is essential. They tell us that they spent the better part of two years formulating structures to allow us to make our contribution. Then, when we get a valid motion with 30 signatures on the Order Paper, those who demand and trumpet the inclusivity of this approach all depart. It is inclusive, but they do not want to be part of it when Unionists are speaking, particularly when it is the majority of the Unionists who are speaking.

I want to take a little time to dwell on the background of the scenario which brought us here today. Many years ago the SDLP was trying to persuade Sinn Féin to adopt a particular analysis of the Northern Ireland situation — long before ceasefires, long before the Belfast Agreement. We often hear it said that when the Unionists contest, oppose or draw attention to the deficiencies of the Belfast Agreement, what we are doing is jeopardising the peace process. It is almost as if the peace process is predicated upon the Belfast Agreement.

In 1988, six years before what passes for the ceasefire that was called by the IRA, the SDLP conceded that there were difficulties in persuading the Unionists to move towards the concept of a new, agreed Ireland. They claimed that an end to the IRA campaign and the subsequent demilitarisation of the North would introduce Unionists to the idea of a new Ireland. That, according to one Gerard Murray was what John Hume said.

Even in 1988 the SDLP, through its leadership, was trying to introduce Unionists to the concept of a new, agreed Ireland. Before that, in 1985, lest anyone should think that this process is only five or six years old, the person who is the Minister of Education, Martin McGuinness, was quoted in a film called ‘Real Lives: At the Edge of the Union’ which received considerable notoriety at that time. It was not featured to any considerable degree at the time, but it is significant that he was quoted as saying

"If someone can show me another way to achieve a united Ireland, I will support it."

The interviewer had asked him why he supported the campaign to achieve a united Ireland by murder. His answer was

"If someone can show me another way to achieve a united Ireland, I will support it."

It is precisely because the British and Irish Governments, the SDLP and the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party have shown them that there is another way to a united Ireland that the guns are comparatively silent — compared to the 1980s. That is why we have the Belfast Agreement. That is why Republican paramilitaries say "We will wait in abeyance to see what the agreement can deliver. If the agreement delivers the end objective, we will put our guns beyond use." That was the genesis of the IRA statement that allowed Mr Trimble to go to the Ulster Unionist Council. Provided it has the capability of delivering the end objective, they will put their guns beyond use.

Now we come to today’s position. We have a system of government designed to deliver, in the long term, the united — or agreed, or new — Ireland that they so avidly seek. It is set up today, two years and a couple of months after the Belfast Agreement.

There have been a considerable number of references to participation, by myself and some of our Unionist Colleagues, in the various workings of the House, and in other places. There was an attempt by David Trimble, the First Minister, by Pat Doherty, and previously by Michael McGimpsey, to say that and to imply that there is full-blooded participation, discussion, debate, dialogue and all sorts of political inter-relationships between the Unionist family and the IRA. I want to be absolutely clear on this. It was significant that Mr Doherty made the comments. Many Members of the House have been approached by Sinn Féin Members attempting to have informal discussions and dialogue.

Some of us have been approached in the Chamber, in the committee rooms, on the stairs, and in the lift. I had the unfortunate experience of being approached in the lift by one of these individuals. I have been approached in the car park and in the restaurant. We have heard references to participation in the Committees, in the House and in councils and council committees, in the Assembly Commission and the now-infamous Committee of the Centre. All of those approaches we treat with utter and total contempt.

Bring me, or anyone here, a Sinn Féiner who has had correspondence, communication, debate, dialogue, dispute or anything with me or any member of my party anywhere, and I will present you with a liar — an unmitigated liar. These people attempt to engage in discussion. Mr Speaker, you will be aware that there have been many Commission meetings. I have never had any dialogue, discussion or debate with the Sinn Féin member. In my capacity as Chairman of the Committee of the Centre, I was taken before the Committee of Privileges for precisely that reason: because I treat these people with contempt. We will not recognise them. We will not do it.

There are times, of course, when we must sit in Committees, and they must sit in Committees — they are legally entitled to do so by the electorate. I often liken it to going to a café or restaurant. If I go there because I must go there, and Sinn Féin comes in, does anyone think that I am going to leave the restaurant, because a murderer has come into that restaurant? If they do think that, they are very badly mistaken. I will not be leaving because Sinn Féin has come in. However, if the manager of the restaurant were to come to me and say "Mr Campbell, I would like you to sit down and discuss the menu with Mr McGuinness", then the manager would get very short shrift. I hope that clarifies the position about the contempt that we have for murdering gangsters, and how we will continue to treat them.

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker 5:45 pm, 4th July 2000

Order. I must draw to the Member’s attention a matter of parliamentary discourse. When he speaks in general terms of contempt, that comes close to the wire. If he refers to contempt for another Member, that is unparliamentary. There can be no doubt about that. So this is not a question of parliamentary privilege, but of unparliamentary language. I draw the Member’s attention to that.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell DUP

Mr Speaker, you will be aware that I did use the plural when I said "murdering gangsters". However, I will not persist. Violence is sometimes used to justify and condone the IRA’s campaign; it is very often done in the media. My hon Colleague Mr Watson made reference to what has gone on in the Province in the past few nights. I would join in his condemnation of all those attacks. Nonetheless, we have to say that it is entirely understandable. It is regrettable; I condemn it, and it should stop. Nonetheless, we have to say that it is perfectly understandable because Loyalists see that violence pays and violence gets results. However, they ought to stop.

Photo of Ms Pauline Armitage Ms Pauline Armitage UUP

I stand here today as an Ulster Unionist — a very lonely one, but that is nothing new for me. I am also a committed Ulster Unionist. Thirty years ago I was one of those dreadful young Unionists. Today I am just a moderate, modest old Unionist. No doubt there are men in grey suits who would like to see me pack my briefcase and leave the politics to them. Perhaps in this House a more appropriate description for them would be "the men with grey hair. Unfortunately they have already left. However, I remain and intend to do so.

It has been suggested that I was forced and put under pressure to sign this motion to exclude Sinn Féin Members from holding office as Ministers. This is totally untrue. I offered to sign the motion. The only pressure applied to me was from my own conscience. I fought the Assembly election on a manifesto of "No guns, no Government". I canvassed for MEP Jim Nicholson on a manifesto of "No guns, no Government". Today we sit in Government with Sinn Féin, yet not one gun, one bullet or one ounce of semtex has been destroyed, nor is there any commitment that the IRA’s massive armoury will ever be destroyed.

In April 1998 Prime Minister Blair told us that decommissioning schemes would come into effect in June 1998 and that the process of decommissioning should begin straight away. If Mr Blair had kept his word, decommissioning would have been well under way by now, and we would have had weapons credibly and verifiably destroyed — put out of use for ever. Unfortunately, our ever-smiling, reassuring Prime Minister has broken his word to the decent law-abiding citizens of Northern Ireland. That is why we are debating this motion today. If he had kept his word, and if Sinn Féin had kept its commitment to the Belfast Agreement, there would have been no need for this debate.

Two years after the signing of the Belfast Agreement we have learned that there are a couple of arms dumps somewhere in a foreign country. The 30-year war was fought in this part of the United Kingdom; why then is it so acceptable to have dumps in the Republic of Ireland? I do not know how many dumps there are; I do not know what is in these dumps; I do not know who controls these dumps; and I do not even know how many people have access to these dumps. According to a newspaper report, Republican sources say that Martin Ferris, a convicted gunrunner, organised last month’s inspection of these dumps. Gunrunner — is that part of the confidence-building process? Can someone tell this House where are the thousands of guns and tonnes of Semtex that are not in these supposedly safe dumps?

I would not have thought that the Republic of Ireland was the safest place for these guns. We all know how things go missing south of the border. Prisoners disappear, extradition forms are mislaid and the IRA cannot even tell the families of the disappeared people where they have buried them.

We have also been told that this debate is a waste of time and that it will not succeed. Many debates in the House have not succeeded, and many promises have not been kept. Why all the fuss about this one? I understand that the other constitutional parties cannot support this motion. I regret that decision, but I suppose, to be fair to them, that they did not fight on a "No guns, no Government" manifesto.

Sinn Féin has said many times that it wants to see the Patten Report implemented in full. I would say to Sinn Féin Members, if they were here — they are not, but I will say it anyway — that I want to see the decommissioning section of the Belfast Agreement implemented in full. The people I represent want to see the guns and the explosives completely destroyed — and not just put into safe keeping until someone, somewhere, decides that he just might want to use them again.

I was at a meeting in East Londonderry recently, and an Assembly Member was very excited because the Minister of Education had apparently removed his Sinn Féin green ribbon before entering a building. I am beginning to wonder if some Unionists are now settling for the decommissioning of the green ribbon. [Laughter] I sincerely hope not, and I live in hope. Democracy cannot co-exist with private armies.

Finally, I quote from a statement of the Ulster Unionist Assembly group at Stormont:

"No Shadow Executive or Executive which would include Sinn Féin can be formed until actual and meaningful decommissioning has commenced. Without actual decommissioning no party associated with a paramilitary organisation will have honoured its obligations under the Agreement and will therefore be ineligible to hold office."

I say to my fellow Ulster Unionists that that statement was issued in their names and in mine, and with our approval. Search your conscience today, fellow Unionists, and make sure you can live with it tomorrow.

I support the motion.

Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson DUP

I wish to make a few general remarks about some of the allegations which have been made about today’s debate. We have been told that it is a stunt. Everyone is talking about this motion being a stunt. We have had it from the First Minister; we have had it from his colleagues in the SDLP; we have had it from his allies in Sinn Féin; we have had it from the PUP and we have had it from the Alliance Party. The fact is that none of them wanted this debate to take place. They have run away from the debate because they know that it is not a stunt. The vote at the end of today’s sitting will show that David Trimble no longer has the authority, about which he has lectured us time and time again. He will no longer be able to claim to have a democratic mandate for what he is doing. That is why they wish to pour derision on this debate. They cannot face up to the impact which this is going to have — that they no longer speak for the majority of Unionists. David Trimble leads a minority Unionist Administration. When they refer to the referendum and say that the authority of this Assembly is the referendum vote, the vote which we will be taking here today will remind them that they are bereft of that argument.

We have been lectured about the need for accountable democracy and accountable Government, yet today, here is the evidence of how accountable the people who supported the Belfast Agreement want to be. They do not want to give an account of themselves. They want to run away from having to answer the arguments.

My Colleague who winds up will, I am sure, pick up on the points which I have missed and he may, perhaps, reinforce some of the points I am going to make. The First Minister made a brief appearance here today, and it has already been pointed out that he spent 80% of his time attacking fellow Unionists. In fact, if you had looked at his speech you would have said that he could be rightly dubbed "the Rice Crispie man". During the first part of his speech he snapped and crackled against other Unionists, but when it came to the part where he had to point the finger at Sinn Féin, he popped and we heard nothing.

Let us just look at some of the arguments he made. He considered that today’s debate was inappropriate, that we ought to have been considering the threat to the security of the Province, that we ought to have been looking at the riots in our streets, that we ought to be asking what to do, those were his words. Let me tell Members that in the face of violence on the streets, the one signal you do not give out is that that violence will be rewarded, yet the First Minister came in here today and defended rewarding violence. He then accused the DUP, as did others, and said that if we had really been serious about bringing this Government down, we could have done so in the Appropriation debate. David Trimble might want us to hurt the people of Northern Ireland, but we have no intention of voting down money for services for our constituents and for people who do not vote for us. We are intent on hurting him and his gang. We are intent on hurting this Administration but not the people out in the streets, therefore, he is not going to get us to walk into that kind of thing. That is exactly what the anti-agreement Unionists want us to do. When it came to the IRA, what did we get? We got a little admonishment — the pop. He said that he would hold them to their promises. I noticed they all smiled at him when he said that, and not a bit of wonder, because he threatens the stranglehold and he gives them a political cuddle. He did the same here again today. He gave them comfort. He was suggesting that even in the face of the majority of the Unionist community opposing what he was going to do, he would stand by them.

Even though you have abused your Ministries, I will stand by you." We did not hear any of his "They are not house-trained" remarks today — he saves those for the run-up to a crucial vote in the Ulster Unionist Council. His Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure did not come to the House to defend himself; he was as bereft of arguments today as he is of hair every other day — and last week he had the audacity to talk about this being fraudulent. What could be more fraudulent than to rail about Sinn Féin’s not being "house-trained" and then to come to this place and defend not just letting them into the House, but letting them run the House.

When one looks at the arguments that have been advanced in defence of including Sinn Féin in Government it is quite clear that the Ulster Unionist Party and its party leader have lost their way. While he talks about being hard on Sinn Féin and putting it in a stranglehold, the sad fact is that he has elevated it. Sinn Féin has been seeking to re-brand itself and has done so, but not by its efforts — the SDLP gave it a hand after its bloody murders in Enniskillen. John Hume picked it up out of the gutter, and now David Trimble has set it up on a pedestal.

The man who was accused in the Saville Inquiry of firing the first shot in Londonderry has now been made the big shot in education by David Trimble and the people who are now defending this Administration.

We watch Sinn Féin trying to re-brand itself, and I watch it in the Assembly on a week-to-week basis. The Minister of Education sits and smiles, and sometimes even laughs at the jokes made about him — the "happy-clappy" wing of the Sinn Féin Assembly group. We are all reasonable people and we can have a little laugh, but every now and again — and Dr Ian Paisley made reference to this today — the "louty-shouty" wing of Sinn Féin makes its appearance. When Barry McElduff goes to Europe he shows that he is a "happy-clappy" kind of chap; when Francie Molloy stands up and has a row in the Chamber with the SDLP, we see the "happy-clappy" face disappearing; and when it gets out on to the streets of Northern Ireland and starts kneecapping and shooting people, we see the "happy-clappy" face disappearing even more, and the "louty-shouty" element coming to the fore again. And yet we have people who call themselves Unionists but who have elevated Sinn Fein to this position.

Alban Maginness talked about us piggybacking into Government on the back of the UUP. He knows all about piggybacking — the SDLP has piggybacked all around the country on the back of Sinn Féin; in fact it is so used to piggybacking that it would not agree to come to my dinner the other night until it found out whether Sinn Féin was coming. And he talks about others piggybacking.

If his Colleague, the Deputy First Minister, had been prepared to be honest with this House and admit that he had resigned, he would have seen whether or not the DUP was interested in piggybacking into Government on the back of the Ulster Unionist Party. There would be no Administration because, at that stage, the DUP would have been able to ensure that no Administration was set up. He never rose to that challenge; he never gave us the opportunity.

In closing, I say to those members of the Ulster Unionist Party who are not here — perhaps they are watching on the monitors — that they cannot abstain; they cannot be neutral on the question of terrorists in Government; and they should be here in this Chamber to vote to undermine this Administration.

Photo of Mr Norman Boyd Mr Norman Boyd NIUP 6:00 pm, 4th July 2000

I support this exclusion motion. This is a sombre occasion because we must never forget the innocent victims of IRA terrorism. The pro-Union community is totally opposed to an Executive which includes the architects of the terrorism that has been directed against us for 30 years while the IRA retains its arsenal and its structures for use at its discretion. Such a situation is totally unacceptable.

The representatives of Sinn Féin/IRA do not share the common desire of ordinary people for stability. They are committed to a revolutionary principle. For them the Assembly is merely a transitional stage in the revolution, and whether that struggle is defined as armed or unarmed really depends on the degree of violence that the Government are prepared to tolerate in the name of a so-called peace process.

We have the worst of all possible worlds, with terrorists outside the Assembly and their representatives inside it. Today, we have the opportunity to declare in favour of a civil society in which ordinary people are free from gangsterism, intimidation, extortion and terror. Those in the Unionist community who voted in favour of the Belfast Agreement because of the false promises and pledges of Tony Blair and the Government that decommissioning would take place, have since openly admitted their errors and now reject the Belfast Agreement and its appeasement process.

The SDLP, the Women’s Coalition and the Alliance Party are all in the pocket of IRA/Sinn Féin — the pan-Nationalist front. We can see what they think of the Unionist community today and the majority of Unionists that we represent by their total absence from the Chamber.

Let us examine the attitude of SDLP Members. The SDLP is a party, which throughout 30 years of terror has constantly condemned violence but has not hesitated to politically profit from that violence. This motion presents SDLP Members with a clear choice between supporting the democratic process and the integrity of the rule of law, or Sinn Féin/IRA’s participation in the Executive while retaining its terrorist arsenal and structures.

If SDLP Members support Sinn Féin’s refusal to decommission its terrorist arsenal and dismantle its terrorist structures it means that they have rendered themselves indistinguishable from Sinn Féin/IRA. The alternative is for the SDLP to align itself with the fundamental democratic demand that Sinn Féin/IRA must decommission its terrorist arsenal and dismantle its terrorist structures.

Sinn Féin/IRA tell us that they are interested in human rights, yet the instruments of torture in the IRA’s armoury are many and varied. They include baseball bats, golf clubs, nail studded clubs, pick-axe handles, hammers, sledge hammers, hurling sticks, axes, hatchets, drills and many others.

There is no peace. The pro-Union community rejects an Executive which includes the architects of the terrorism directed against them for 30 years while the IRA retains its terrorist arsenal and its structures for use at its discretion. Such a situation is totally unacceptable.

I quote from ‘The Informer’ by Sean O’Callaghan, one of Sinn Féin/IRA’s and Martin McGuinness’s previous cohorts:

"The so-called Education Minister, Martin McGuinness, has been an active Republican since 1970. He was Chief of Staff of the IRA from 1977 to 1982. He has been a member of the IRA Army Council since 1976. He has held the position of OC Northern command."

In August 1993 Central Television’s ‘The Cook Report’ named him as Britain’s number one terrorist. That is the man who now holds the position of Education Minister in our Executive. The IRA army council chooses the chief of staff. It has two primary responsibilities: to ensure that the IRA has the equipment to wage war and that the organisation operates at maximum efficiency.

According to the informer, Sean O’Callaghan, no chief of staff in recent years has carried anything like the internal influence of Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness. The IRA Army Council sanctioned the Canary Wharf bomb. Right up to the present day Adams and Martin McGuinness have been firmly in charge of the Republican movement. They could not possibly have remained if the army council of the IRA had approved the ending of the ceasefire and sanctioned the Canary Wharf bombing without the knowledge and agreement of the IRA members Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams. That is according to the informer, Sean O’Callaghan.

The IRA has murdered over 2,000 people in the last 30 years. It is their lethal murder machine that has got them into the Executive — not the ballot box, as they would try to dupe many people into believing.

Since January this year, the IRA has carried out 23 shootings, 32 beatings and mutilations and three murders. The clear message today is that the innocent victims of terrorism still suffer. Their agony and suffering is compounded by the presence of unrepentant terrorists and their supporters being placed in the Government of Northern Ireland.

The Education Minister, Martin McGuinness who is a former chief of staff of the Provisional IRA, has been part of an organisation that has presided over the murders of over 2,000 citizens in Northern Ireland and for which no apology has ever been forthcoming.

This is not peace, justice or democracy, it is appeasement to terrorism. The Provisional IRA has murdered school teachers, school children, principals, students, school workers and school bus drivers. Many of these innocent victims were murdered in the presence of young children and students. Millions of pounds have been wasted through damage to schools and universities by IRA bombs, and many thousands of young people continue to have their education affected because of bomb scares.

The crisis in education funding is a direct result of the 30-year terrorist campaign of the Provisional IRA. That organisation will continue to murder, maim and carry out its criminal activities while it remains fully armed and intact. On behalf of the citizens of Northern Ireland, we call on Prime Minister Tony Blair to fulfil his pledges and take the necessary steps to remove Martin McGuinness from the Executive, with immediate effect.

I call on the Ulster Unionist Party Assembly Members to join with many of their party’s Members of Parliament and grass-roots members to reject having Sinn Féin/IRA representatives in the Government. Listen to the young people in the Ulster Unionist Party. I call on every Ulster Unionist to reject the SDLP and Sinn Féin, whose common goal is Irish unity. They should join their Unionist colleagues in excluding Sinn Féin/IRA. My message to Prime Minister Tony Blair and to the pro-Agreement parties is that, although they may choose to ignore the majority of Unionists in the Chamber, they will not ignore the majority of the Unionist people when they speak — and speak they will.

We have endured 30 years of violence and terror. If the House sends the message that violence pays, we shall be heading for the abyss. Members may laugh and mock, but this is a serious matter. I am not advocating violence, but if the motion fails, the message from the Assembly will be that democracy has died in Northern Ireland.

As democrats, we stand for democracy and the rule of law, but we have been ignored and laughed at. My message to the Prime Minister is that Unionists have had enough. I support the motion.

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker

Having listened to the speeches so far, I believe that the arguments have been thoroughly rehearsed. I therefore propose to move to the winding-up speeches and then to the vote. I have had no indication that Sinn Féin wishes to make a winding-up speech. I therefore call Mr P Robinson.

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP

I am sure that Members are grateful for your remarks that they have done such a thorough job in speaking to the motion. The job of someone who winds up at the end of a debate is to deal with the arguments that had been postulated against the motion systematically and thoroughly. I do not have a difficult task this evening, although before they all hit and ran, some Members made comments which were not very relevant to the purpose and intention of the debate, but which are on the record and should therefore be dealt with. I can, of course, understand why there are empty Benches around us today, and why Sinn Féin’s Benches are empty. Sinn Féin knows it is guilty. It knows that there is no defence. The SDLP will do whatever Sinn Féin requires of it, and has gone lamb-like behind Sinn Féin. The sheer embarrassment to the Ulster Unionist Party has caused it to hide in its rooms, lock the doors, pull the curtains across and turn the lights out. If any Ulster Unionist has the courage to turn on the monitor, the Member will hear some of my remarks about the UUP.

During his brief stay in the Chamber, the First Minister spoke for 8 minutes and 10 seconds against the Democratic Unionist Party, and spoke quietly to Sinn Féin for some of the remaining period out of his 10 allotted minutes. He then made some comments that must be dealt with. He said that the DUP and other anti-Agreement Unionists were "fully involved". Hansard will bear out those two words. That was strange coming from a First Minister who called a press conference, along with the Deputy First Minister, to deal with the Minister for Social Development and myself precisely because we would not become fully involved in the process.

If he is to provide an argument for his supporters — should he have any left in the country — it should be a consistent argument, not one which jumps from one position to the contrary almost as the moment requires.

He never dealt with the motion, and it is a crying shame that we have a Unionist leader who, when asked to speak on a motion calling for the exclusion from the Government of armed, unrepentant terrorist representatives, decides to restrict himself to dealing with entirely different issues, not touching on that matter. He says that dreadful things have happened in this Province over the last few nights and that it would have been better if the House had addressed those important issues. Of course, Members did not have knowledge of those events at the time when they would have had to put down a motion, but that fact would carry no weight in Mr Trimble’s mind.

As First Minister, he has the ability in Executive time to call the Assembly to address issues relevant to the Government of Northern Ireland. He could have made a statement on the resources being lost today because of the violence on our streets. If the matter was of such importance and moment for him, he could have came to the Assembly and made a statement. There was time, for the Assembly was suspended for a period before lunch because there was not sufficient business. However, the First Minister could not care less about the violence in Portadown or anywhere else. It was more important to get material to snipe at the DUP, not to attack Sinn Féin/IRA, but to attack Unionists in the Assembly.

Other Members dealt with what they described as a stunt, a cynical ploy. Indeed, both outside the Assembly and in it, if there was any argument around which the opposition coalesced, it was that this was somehow a stunt. I intend to deal with that matter comprehensively.

First, we moved this motion on the basis of a clearly laid-down procedure, which was not invented by the Democratic Unionist Party or devised by anti-agreement Unionists. It was not even the brainchild of the Assembly. Nor did Parliament, when making the law, conceive this procedure. It is a child of the Belfast Agreement. That which they describe as a stunt, they devised the means for themselves, and there is much evidence to suggest that they knew exactly how those means would be used.

The Belfast Agreement states simply that those who hold office should use only democratic, non-violent means, and that those who do not should be excluded or removed from office. That is a clear statement.

They went to the country in the referendum, embellishing that statement with statements from the Prime Minister and Mr Trimble. When the law itself was being drafted, it was framed in the same explicit terms. The procedure that they devised was clearly set for the one purpose of removing from the Government those not committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means.

What did the parties of the Unionist tradition say during the course of the election to the Assembly? What was their stand on the issue? My party colleagues gave ‘Your Best Guarantee’ as our pledge to the people. In it we expressly said that our role in the Assembly would be to exclude those who have not pledged themselves to peace and democracy, who still hold on to an arsenal of terror and keep their terror machine in place. That was our pledge.

The Ulster Unionist Party, during the course of the election, did not want to have a lesser pledge than the Democratic Unionist Party. Its leaflet ‘Together, within the Union’ said

"Before any terrorist organisation and/or its political wing can benefit from the proposals contained in the Agreement on the release of terrorist prisoners and the holding of ministerial office in the Assembly, the commitment to exclusively peaceful and non-violent means must be established. The Ulster Unionist Party will, therefore, be using various criteria that are objective, meaningful and verifiable in order to judge:

that there is a clear, unequivocal commitment that ceasefires are complete and permanent; that the ‘war’ is over and violence…cease forthwith; that there is progressive abandonment and dismantling of paramilitary structures; that use of proxy organisations for paramilitary purposes cannot be tolerated; that disarmament must be completed in two years; and that the fate of the ‘disappeared’ would be made know immediately.

Ulster Unionists reiterate that we will not sit in government with ‘unreconstructed terrorists’. "

That is the position of the Ulster Unionist Party. I read a statement in the ‘Irish Times’ yesterday, arising from an interview with Mr Trimble on the ‘Inside Politics’ programme. With such an election manifesto, I should have thought that the last thing that the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party would want to talk about is the propriety of keeping election commitments. Instead of being embarrassed, he turns on Colleagues—no doubt the two or three who have already spoken in the debate. He said

"It is unfortunate that people elected to the Assembly on a pro-agreement mandate at the first flicker from the DUP abandoned their manifesto commitments. I think that is a situation where people are not reflecting the obligation they entered into with the electorate."

I have read Mr Trimble’s obligation to the electorate. It is on the record, but more than that, it is in the mind of every Unionist in the streets, villages, towns and cities of Northern Ireland—and well he knows it. That is the reason why he is trying to put off having local Government elections. That is the reason why he is trying to put off having a by-election in South Antrim. That is the reason why the UUP is talking about how it might extend the life of this Assembly, thereby avoiding going back to the people. The UUP is afraid of its electorate and the views that are held about the party leadership. I have shown the nature of the procedure, from where it was derived, and what it was understood to mean.

Did the main pro-agreement parties, inside and outside the House, understand the use of the procedure and the circumstance in which it would be used? There was no excuse for the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, because in the House on 15 December 1998 the First Minister, then Designate, got to his feet and said

"If the issue of forming an Executive should arise without there being a credible beginning to decommissioning as required by the agreement, we would have to table a motion for the exclusion from office of those who had not begun the process of decommissioning"

He knows what the procedure is for. Not only does he know, but he said that he would use it. In what circumstances? In the very circumstances that exist today. He comes to this Assembly, not even speaking in favour of the motion that he said he would table. He comes to this Assembly, not to chastise Sinn Féin/IRA, but to turn on those who still hold to the policy that he said he would pursue. He is not the only one among the pro-agreement parties who held such a view.

The holier-than-thou Deputy First Minister held this view as well and annunciated it at the SDLP party conference. He said

"Many Unionists feared Sinn Féin would pocket maximum advantages, among them prisoner releases, changes to policing and criminal law reform, and then fail to honour their decommissioning obligations."

He was dead right in that.

"I believe that won’t occur but if it did happen the SDLP would rigorously enforce the terms of the Agreement and remove from office those who had so blatantly dishonoured their obligations."

So, not only the First Minister but also the Deputy First Minister and their parties knew the purpose of this piece of legislation. They knew what the procedure was for and the circumstances in which it would be used. They both committed themselves and their parties to use it in the circumstances that exist today. But they were not the only ones. Outside the Assembly there are what are described as the two Governments. Though he may have other things to consider today, the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, Mr Ahern, said

"Sinn Féin should be barred from the new Northern Ireland Government unless the IRA starts to decommission its weapons. Decommissioning in one form or another has to happen. It is not compatible with being part of a government, and part of an executive, if there is not at least a commencement of decommissioning."

They had to be barred from government.

The Ulster Unionist Party said "Yes, here are the circumstances in which they should be excluded." The SDLP said "Here are the circumstances in which they can be excluded." The Prime Minister of the Irish Republic said that they "should be barred from government", and he was not alone. The father of Leo Blair had something to say on the matter as well. In a letter to Mr Trimble he made it clear that not only was he aware of the conditions upon which this provision of the Act should be used but that if it was not effective enough he was prepared to move and make sure that Sinn Féin could be put out of Government if it did not meet its obligations, as he saw it, under the agreement. In that letter dated 10 April 1998 he gave a commitment to support changes to the legislation if it was not sufficiently effective in removing those who were still wedded to terror and had not decommissioned their weapons.

But did the wider community have the same understanding of the use of the procedure and the circumstances in which it would be used — they should have. I have, from my constituency, the election literature that was sent around by the Minister responsible for economic and trade issues in the Assembly. This is what that manifesto literature said:

"The Ulster Unionist Party... will not sit in the Government of Northern Ireland with unreconstructed terrorists. This issue must be comprehensively addressed to our satisfaction. Paramilitary organisations must decide that the ‘war’ is over, dismantle, disarm and stop the beatings."

It was not enough simply to disarm; they had to dismantle their terror machine as well. The electorate in East Belfast read this communication. They may not have voted for him in the numbers that they voted for some other candidates, but read his election communication they did, and they understood it well.

If anybody was in any doubt about what the position of the Ulster Unionist Party was to be, his ministerial Colleague, Mr Sam Foster, made it abundantly clear. Not only did he want to make it clear but he wanted it placed on the record of the House so that none of us would be in any doubt in the future where he stood on this issue. He said on 15 December 1998

"We are talking about setting up bodies and Departments — that is ridiculous before decommissioning. We are being asked to set up a Government in spite of the fact that we know that, outside in the undergrowth, there are weapons and equipment ready to be used — a gun-to-the- head attitude. Is that what we are being asked to do? Are we being asked to govern in spite of the fact that there are illegal armies and equipment out there?

Mr Presiding Officer, do you really feel that you could preside over a Government? Would it be credible or incredible? Would it be a credible or an incredible Assembly? Would it be dishonest or honest? Would it be deceit or falsehood or a lack of integrity? Are there no morals whatsoever?

Surely we cannot begin to govern until there is decommissioning, when peace I hope will be absolute. The onus is on Sinn Feín/IRA to do so. It is not on the UUP."

He added

"Decommissioning is a must, and nothing — nothing — will move until that comes about."

However, you are right: these are just individuals; it is not the party speaking, but this is. The Ulster Unionist Party on 17 May 1999 said

"There must be a credible and verifiable start to the process of decommissioning before Sinn Feín can participate in government … The Ulster Unionist Party will not change its position on this matter now, during or after the European election."

That is comforting, Mr Speaker. "This issue", they say, "goes right to the heart of the agreement and to the commitments to peace and democracy that Government Ministers must abide by."

Then, coming up to Christmas, a letter came through the letterbox personally signed by the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and apart from wishing them all a happy Christmas — and I can see the warmth that it brought to my Colleague, if indeed he got it — he referred to the setting up of Government Departments in Northern Ireland. He said

"As your leader I wish to assure you that Sinn Féin will not be included in the agreement that I have referred to above if Sinn Féin/IRA do not honour their commitments to decommissioning made under the Belfast Agreement. If they do not the Ulster Unionist Party will not form an Executive that includes Sinn Feín. Claims that Sinn Feín are entitled to places without decommissioning are completely dishonest. The opening pages of the agreement repeat the need for a commitment to peaceful means and an absence of the use of the threat of violence four times. The agreement provides for the exclusion of those who do not abide by this requirement and this exclusion is cross-referenced to decommissioning. I cannot speak any plainer.I expect the total support of my party and the country at large for my position."

That should have been followed by "(as long as I hold it)".

This debate has given us all an opportunity — not simply the one about which Members on this side of the House have spoken — to fulfil our manifesto requirements, an opportunity to do what was necessary, to give the people out there the expression of opinion that we are opposed to having those who represent unrepentant and armed terrorists in Government. It gave these people an opportunity as well, because if there had been the least intention on the part of any one of them to ever fulfil the obligations of which Mr Trimble claims they are aware, they could have come forward. They could have spent some time, during the course of this debate, trying to convince Unionists that they had an intention to decommission — that the war was over. You did not hear any words like those from their lips today. What is their strategy? It has not changed. The strategy was set out by Danny Morrison at the ardfheis in November 1981 when he said "Who here really believes we can win the war through the ballot box?" There was silence in the room. "But will anyone here object if,with ballot paper in this hand and an Armalite in this hand, we take power in Ireland?" And there was sustained applause in the conference. That is the strategy (the strategy referred to by my Friend,the Member for East Londonderry),the ballot-box and the Armalite — the threat of violence and the reality of actual violence.

The leader of Sinn Féin/IRA stated their position in ‘An Phoblacht’ on 17 November 1983. Under the heading "Armed struggle is a necessary form of resistance", Mr Adams said

"I would like to elaborate on Sinn Féin’s attitude to armed struggle. Armed struggle is a necessary and morally correct form of resistance in the Six Counties against a government whose presence is rejected by the vast majority of Irish people. In defending and supporting the right of the Irish people to engage in armed struggle it is important for those so engaged to be aware of the constant need and obligation they have to continuously examine their tactics and strategies. There are those who tell us that the British Government will not be moved by armed struggle. As has been said before, the history of Ireland and of British colonial involvement throughout the world tells us that they will not be moved by anything else. I am glad therefore of the opportunity to pay tribute to the freedom-fighters — the men and women volunteers of the IRA."

This has been the traditional position of Sinn Féin/IRA — inextricably linked, all part of the one process, moving forward together, Armalite and ballot box. One can hold back while the other is being used, both available for use as they would direct it — and both are still being used.

We have heard statistics about the number of people who have been shot. There was the murder of Edmund McCoy — and many others before that — during this so-called peace process. They were making bombs a matter of days ago — for what purpose, I wonder? They are bringing guns into the country, while the First Minister tells us that they are intent on decommissioning. There is no remorse, no apology, no intention to decommission. Not one word during this debate suggests that there is the least change in the spots of this leopard — not one. The IRA still holds on to its weapons, for the fear that the guns inspire, principally in the mind of Her Majesty’s Government. They will never give them up because of the threat that they pose. They know that there are people who ultimately will buckle, just as the First Minister buckled at the threat that the guns might be brought out again — a sad reality.

During the debate I believe we have established that the exclusion procedure we are using was designed and argued for by pro-agreement parties. We have established that the key participants envisaged using it themselves. We have established that the supporters of our motion are using the exclusion procedure in exactly the circumstances in which the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP said that they would be justified in using it. Other Unionists pledged themselves to exclude Sinn Féin/IRA under precisely the circumstances that those who signed this motion,and have spoken in favour of it would ask this House to do today.

In the light of the twin-track strategy of the IRA, in the light of the continued violence and what that violence does to the democratic process, I believe that I have the right and the entitlement to ask of all Ulster Unionists who stood on the manifesto that I read to this Assembly earlier to come out from hiding and not to consider abstaining. How on earth could anybody be neutral on the issue of whether, in the Government of Northern Ireland, there should be present unrepentant and armed terrorist representatives? It is inconceivable that any Unionist could take that position. I ask them to remember that their first loyalty and duty is not to the leader of their party. It is not even to their party. Their first loyalty and duty is to the people who elected them, the people who gave them a mandate and to whom they pledged themselves. That is what they need to remember today.

I will give the last word to Mrs Pauline Armitage, who took a principled position and left a warning to her colleagues hanging in the air when she said

"Search your conscience today … and make sure you can live with it tomorrow."

Question put. [Interruption]

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Speaker 6:30 pm, 4th July 2000

Order. Members do not seem to be aware that such motions require a cross-community vote. If no Members of one or other community vote, the motion will fall.

The Assembly divided: Ayes 32; Noes 14.



Fraser Agnew, Pauline Armitage, Roy Beggs, Paul Berry, Norman Boyd, Gregory Campbell, Mervyn Carrick, Wilson Clyde, Nigel Dodds, Boyd Douglas, Oliver Gibson, William Hay, David Hilditch, Derek Hussey, Roger Hutchinson, Gardiner Kane, Robert McCartney, William McCrea, Maurice Morrow, Ian Paisley Jnr, Ian R K Paisley, Edwin Poots, Iris Robinson, Mark Robinson, Peter Robinson, Patrick Roche, Jim Shannon, Denis Watson, Peter Weir, Jim Wells, Cedric Wilson, Sammy Wilson.



Mark Durkan, John Fee, Joe Hendron, John Hume, Alban Maginness, Alex Maskey, Conor Murphy, Eamonn ONeill, John Tierney.


Eileen Bell, Seamus Close, David Ford, Kieran McCarthy, Sean Neeson.

Total Votes 46 Total Ayes 32 ( 69.6%)

Nationalist Votes 9 Nationalist Ayes 0 ( 0%)

Unionist Votes 32 Unionist Ayes 32 ( 100%)

Question accordingly negatived.

Adjourned at 6.53pm.