Northern Ireland Assembly Flax Flower Logo

Northern Ireland Assembly

Tuesday 3 April 2001 (continued)

Mr B Hutchinson:

Does the Member agree that on 15 December 1994, when exploratory talks opened in this Building, 364 Loyalist and Republican life-sentence prisoners were already on the streets, long before the Good Friday Agreement was even talked about?

Mr A Maginness:

I thank the Member for the intervention. In the normal course of events prisoners are released from prison when they have served their time. As Mr Hutchinson pointed out, many Loyalist and Republican prisoners had already been released. The number of reoffenders among that group, and, indeed, among the groups released after the Good Friday Agreement, is minimal, and it is important to take that into consideration.

People say "Hordes of prisoners have been released. This is terrible." Is it so terrible? Prisoners have contributed to and secured the peace in our society. They may have done terrible things in the past, but they have paid for those things. The contribution of prisoners should not be underestimated - though it should not be overestimated either.

11.30 am

The Good Friday Agreement talks about victims - it makes them a central part of the agreement. We - especially members of the DUP, who are so opposed to the Good Friday Agreement - should say that it has produced a focus on victims. If we were truthful, that is what we would say. The Good Friday Agreement has acted as a stimulus for focusing on the needs of victims, and it is very important for Members to acknowledge that.

The Good Friday Agreement talks about the acknowledgement of victims. Today we are talking about addressing the needs of victims. The strategy has to address not only the needs of victims but also has to acknowledge victims in some way. I do not know how we will do that. Many ways have been suggested, but there is no overall scheme in which acknowledgement can fully take place. The strategy that the Office of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister produces should contain a major element acknowledging the role of victims and their suffering. It should acknowledge their pain both individually and collectively. That is an important element and should be included.

The SDLP takes acknowledgement seriously, and we have produced our own ideas about it. One of these ideas, which would be helpful in acknowledging the suffering and pain of victims collectively and individually, is the establishment of a video archive. This would be publicly funded, and victims of the troubles could go to it and relate their stories on video or audio. The tapes will be stored as an historic record, which the public will have access to. Similar schemes have been set up in other places such as Israel and Washington.

Mr Paisley Jnr:

I thank the Member for giving way and for putting an interesting idea to the House. Is he proposing, in his definition of victims, that people who have been injured by terrorist activity should have to share a place in that scheme with people who were terrorists and were perhaps injured by members of the security forces who were defending law and order? Does he understand that some victims might feel reluctant to be seen as part of that definition?

Mr A Maginness:

I understand your position and the deeply held views of people who are upset about the equation that you have just suggested.

Mr Speaker:

The debate is to be conducted through the Chair, not by addressing Members directly.

Mr A Maginness:

I apologise, Mr Speaker.

The definition of victim that Mr Paisley Jnr suggested is far too restrictive. Eileen Bell is a leading expert on victims because she did so much work over the years in that area before the issue of victims became "fashionable". She has suggested that the definition of victim should not be restrictive - it should be much wider.

The SDLP believes that as well. If people believe that they have been victimised by the troubles, that should be sufficient to define them as victims. It should be self-defining, because when people are excluded all sorts of problems are created. However, I do understand the sensitivities that people have about the definition of victims and the sharing, as it were, of victimhood with people whom they do not agree with politically or who they believe to have been the cause of violence or hurt in society.

It is essential that the Office of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister co-operate fully with the Northern Ireland Office and with Minister Ingram in particular. It is vital to have co-operation between the Executive and the Northern Ireland Office. Mr Ingram has been very helpful and enthusiastic in addressing victims' issues. A co-operative approach is central to addressing the gamut of victims' needs. I am sure that that will come about, and I urge that it does.

Mrs I Robinson:

There is a difference between those who carried out terrorist atrocities and those who suffered at the hands of those same terrorists. To say that the prisoners have paid their price to society is to add insult to injury.

Some terrorists served only months of life sentences because of the deal agreed under the Belfast Agreement. Many ex-prisoners are involved in drugs, protection rackets and other antisocial activities. They have created a mafia-type society that is causing severe hardship across the Province. I ask Mr Maginness to bear that in mind.

Throughout the so-called peace process, one group of people has come to symbolise all that is wrong with current political developments - the victims of the troubles; and by "victims" I mean those who have suffered as a result of terrorist violence. They are the real victims as opposed to those who are busily trying to claim a place in that honourable group.

The evident disparity between the way in which ex-prisoners and victims are treated is obscene. The catalogue of financial handouts to ex-prisoner groups is not only offensive but smacks of a pay-off. Almost £7 million have been given to ex-prisoners to date. That is, of course, only a minimum figure - a vast sum has been given to them through other mechanisms. Whatever figure is taken, it should be compared to what the real victims have received, which, in my opinion, is a bare fraction of what has been given to ex-prisoners.

Why have real victims been so overlooked? Is it because they are an in-your-face reminder of the barbarity and brutality of the deeds of wicked people, some of whom now pose as peacemakers?

Can the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister explain why we now have a cunning redefinition of who the real victims are? It has long been a tactic of Republicans to portray their lives as ones of unrelieved blackness and "victimhood". That has worked well for them until now, so why would they want to cease such a profitable occupation, especially when there is money in it for them? That is why it is essential to recognise the difference between those who support terrorism and those who have borne the brunt of it.

It has been mainly the Protestant community that has suffered so much, often without murmuring or complaining. Republicans, however, although they have been at the forefront of the cause of the suffering, have gone around the world whingeing and begging as though they were the victims. Our community, in contrast, has picked itself up and plodded on, and we have lost out as a result. We find that the lion's share goes to the terrorists and thugs at every turn.

We are now witnessing the unacceptable merging of real victims with those who caused the trouble in the first place. The real victims, once again, are being treated on a par with those who caused the pain and hurt. To make matters worse, legitimate victims' groups are unable to employ the number of staff required to provide the full range of services for those who need them. They are unable to meet in the sort of premises that terrorists now enjoy outside prison. I find that obscene.

To add insult to injury, victims with young children have had to endure the humiliation of being unable to provide for their growing families, as they watch the perpetrators of their anguish being lauded and hailed at every turn. Some of those people now have the audacity to sit in the Chamber with an arsenal of weapons at their disposal.

One of the major problems that I have encountered is the prejudice shown by the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust (NIVT) towards organisations on the Protestant side, on the grounds that they are too political. It does not have that attitude towards ex-prisoner groups. The director of the NIVT said

"politically motivated ex-prisoners of war are at the forefront and actively continuing their struggle with their clear commitments to community development."

In March last year the NIVT froze funding for Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR). Again, in September, it reduced the funding, which meant that FAIR was no longer able to retain all of the staff that it had employed to help victims. In comparison -[Interruption]

Mr B Hutchinson:

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I refer you to Standing Order 17(7) because I am concerned that several Members have mentioned organisations that have acted as intermediary funding bodies. However, they have not mentioned others who fund prisoners' organisations and rehabilitation. Under Standing Order 17(7), you could rule to prevent that. NIVT has done excellent work to tackle poverty and that has gone unrecognised in the Chamber.

Mr Speaker:

Standing Order 17(7) gives the Speaker an opportunity to draw attention to persistent irrelevance or tedious repetition.

I am generous to many Members with regard to the length and repetitiveness of their speeches. However, it may be a relief to the House that not all Members are mentioning all organisations - otherwise we would never get through the debate.

Mrs I Robinson:

I do not have time to go down the list of relevant funding bodies, but I take the point that my Colleague made.

In comparison to the funding for FAIR, Relatives for Justice, which is far more political than FAIR, received £99,000. That is not a sign of even-handedness or of a commitment to helping victims, especially Protestant victims.

Ms Morrice:

Will the Member give way?

Mrs I Robinson:

No. I am just finishing.

I hope that the Office of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister will reassure the House that the real victims of terrorism will receive money separately from ex-prisoners' groups and remove the current disparity in funding.


Mrs Nelis:

Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle. I will briefly mention some of the comments made by Members about ex-prisoners. I must state clearly that ex-prisoners are making, and have made, a valuable contribution to the healing and confidence building that is characteristic in a society that is emerging from conflict. I also want to draw attention to the DUP, those innocent victims, politicians who, from what we hear in the Chamber, never did anything wrong. Graveyards are full of the victims of Ulster resistance, the killing machine that the DUP played a big part in.

No money can compensate those who lost a family member in the conflict of the past 30 years. It is an unmeasurable grief that time does not heal. Time merely adjusts the quality of life for the living so that they perform the functions of everyday living in the knowledge that part of their lives has closed down - a burden that never goes away. No one should expect relatives who are carrying such a cross of grief also to carry the additional pressure of financial hardship created by the loss or injury of a family member. Monetary aid that can ease that pressure should be sought out and delivered. That delivery must acknowledge equality of treatment; it should acknowledge transparency; and it should be based on the principle of "to each according to his needs".

The welcome addition of EU money should not become the subject of a squabbling match between a plethora of administrative groups. Indeed the situation involving the Victims Liaison Unit, the Victims Unit, the trauma advisory services and the various intermediate funding bodies - not to mention the Secretary of State - is only causing confusion to the victims who are looking on and wondering what it has to do with them. I am not demeaning the role of the groups that I have mentioned in trying to address the needs of victims, but the administrative quagmire is causing total confusion. What proportion of the EU funding will be soaked up by the bureaucratic bodies on administration? Why do we need all these people dipping their fingers into the till of money that should be used solely to address the needs of those who have suffered as a result of the conflict? I need an assurance - and so do all the relatives' groups and individuals - that an administrative levy will not be imposed on the distribution of the money.

In addition to the legitimate concerns of relatives of victims and survivors of the conflict who have the right to be adequately compensated, they collectively have the right to truth, justice, acknowledgement and recognition. The Bloomfield Report is used as the definitive means by which the Northern Ireland Office measures victimhood. Commentators and numerous politicians have constantly articulated the hurt of those affected by the conflict, but that expression, is rarely extended to the forgotten victims and survivors of state and state-sponsored violence. Such victims - well over 400 men, women and children - were accorded one paragraph in the lengthy Bloomfield Report. Is it any wonder that there is in effect - and some Members have mentioned this today - what amounts to a pecking order of victims? We saw it recently when the Secretary of State announced £11 million for the relatives of RUC victims. I am not saying they do not deserve that, but compare it with the £200,000 that was announced for all of the other victims' groups and individuals.

That disparity between allocations reinforces the perception that the state operates a league table of victims, not only in funding, but also in truth, justice and recognition.

Marginalising the forgotten victims of state violence is a tactic in the propaganda war. It is used successfully by politicians to demonise and exclude those who do not come within the definition "security forces". They label the relatives of some of those killed as innocent and, by implication, others as guilty. The suggestion is that some were right and some were wrong. That makes nonsense of the historic compromise that is the Good Friday Agreement and is an attempt to criminalise everyone. There are double standards on the part of the British Government, and anyone following the issue of victims in the media could be forgiven for thinking that there were only two parties to the conflict. Many parties were directly and indirectly involved in the conflict, and we are all responsible for victims.

We have a duty to care for all who have suffered and for those who live with grief, injury, pain and traumatic stress. We have the opportunity, with this small tranche of money, to decide that it will be given to all surviving victims and their families, irrespective of political or religious differences. The present administrative arrangements are divisive and bureaucratic and will only postpone the opportunity for healing, which is the main purpose of the money. Go raibh míle maith agat.

Mr Beggs:

I welcome the additional money. It is coming to Northern Ireland as a result of the efforts of the Office of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister, of our three MEPs and, to some extent, of Members of the Assembly who went to Brussels to lobby for it in 1998. I also welcome the inclusion of a specific measure for victims in the Peace II programme. Most of the funding should go towards the innocent victims of terrorism and paramilitarism.

In determining how to treat victims, we should consider how their needs were addressed in the past. Most innocent victims are not highly organised or politicised. I urge Ministers to be proactive in assisting with the establishment of a support structure for victims in all areas. I am thinking of organisations such as Wave, which is respected by all communities. As a starting point, the Minister should analyse each council area to see how much funding there has been for victims. I fear that some stark figures will come to light from such a study.

My experience of how victims were dealt with by Peace I is, in the main, limited to my own constituency. There are victims in all constituencies in Northern Ireland. In my constituency, there have been many innocent victims of violence. Many members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Ulster Defence Regiment, the Royal Irish Regiment, the Army, the Prison Service and their families have also been victims of terrorism. In addition to what has happened in the past, there are at least 80 organised gangs, many with paramilitary connections, whose activities continue to create victims. That fact has been highlighted by a recent report. People are being intimidated and business people blackmailed by those gangs. Those people too are victims, and their problems must be addressed.

Many of these gangs hide under a cloak of either Republicanism or Loyalism.

How many victims were assisted by Peace I funding in my own area? I recently received a report from Proteus, one of the Peace I bodies. The report advised that Proteus had assisted 1,331 victims of violence and 977 ex-prisoners. How much of that money was spent in Carrickfergus? Carrickfergus does not appear in the table of funding. No money was spent in Carrickfergus. A very low proportion was spent in Larne. The money is not being evenly distributed. Some areas need assistance in drawing down the funding to help victims of violence.

The Educational Guidance Service for Adults received £4·3 million in European Peace I funding, if my memory serves me correctly. In the entire constituency of East Antrim £26,000 was spent. These groups were putting money into victims' groups and ex-prisoners' groups, and a very low proportion was being spent in East Antrim.

I also urge that specific funding be set aside for the ongoing victims of intimidation. I am aware of several very genuine victims who are experiencing difficulties in re-establishing their lives. In the last year they have been forced out of their homes, yet the system does not appear to be able to assist them. I ask the Minister to be proactive for those who continue to suffer from intimidation by paramilitary groups.

How are we going to assist those who are being brutalised or shot by these self-appointed paramilitary godfathers? Some in this House continue to withhold their support from the police and continue to hold back from urging their community to join the police. Whether they like it or not, they have a degree of responsibility for victims of ongoing terrorist violence when they withhold their support from the police and withhold support for joining the police from their community.

Everyone must get behind the police. They must get behind the criminal justice system exclusively. The longer games are played, the more victims there will be. Others will use the withholding of support for the police to justify their breaches of human rights and the brutalisation of bodies. This Assembly and this society must decide whether they are going to move forward by respecting the rule of law and by relying solely on the criminal justice system.

Mr Shannon:

I welcome the fact that money has been allocated to victims. I wish to speak specifically on where that money should go. The notion that the victims of terrorism in Northern Ireland should receive the financial support of government, both at Westminster and in Brussels, is honourable. However, events of the past few years have shown us that this too has been lost amongst the political expediency and the social confusion that is the Belfast Agreement.

The gulf between Government efforts to promote and support the spokesmen of terror and their acknowledgement of and support for the victims of terror is truly reprehensible. IRA/Sinn Féin, which has the blood of thirty years of slaughter on its hands, is elevated to Government, and has millions of pounds of taxpayers' money thrown at it. On the other hand, we have the families and individuals who must live the rest of their lives with the physical and emotional scars received at the hands of these thugs. The victims are having to organise and raise money for their own cause on their own.


The Government of this country have rejected and insulted the victims of terror and the memory of those who died to protect freedom and liberty in the scramble to meet the demands of IRA/Sinn Féin. Along with many others, I must applaud the bravery and courage of all those real victims and groups, such as the Long March, in refusing to lie down to the intimidation of IRA/Sinn Féin and the treachery of Westminster.

Our respect and admiration must be directed towards the victims who choose to stand on a public platform and share their experiences of how their lives have been destroyed at the hands of IRA/Sinn Féin. It is not easy to remain emotionally detached from the issue when you see people on television such as Michelle Williamson, who lost her parents in the Shankill bombing. When you hear her telling her story in person, and when you listen to the experiences of others whose lives have been wrecked by the troubles, the emotions and feelings stimulated can hardly be described or contained.

This is the reality of the past 30 years, and it exposes the play-acting and pantomime farce that is the Belfast Agreement through which murderers are given the power to dictate how we run our lives. They are able to do this as a direct result of taking innocent lives, yet they continue to plot the ethnic cleansing of all things Protestant and Unionist from our Province. There is no bigger insult to all the innocent victims. This is the present day reality. Innocent victims of fascist Republican terrorism are castigated, disregarded and ignored, simply because of their innocence and incapability of planting bombs in London - because they have no wish to do that. Therefore it is disgraceful to note the amounts of public money being allocated to those who, ironically, were responsible for our troubled history, while the real victims are ignored and pilloried.

One such group comprises the wives and widows of those who were injured or murdered defending democracy in this country while wearing the uniform of the Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Irish Regiment. One hundred and ninety-nine members made the ultimate sacrifice, while many hundreds more were injured or maimed. Families and former members require support and recognition and the Assembly has debated the issue before and has supported a motion. They, of all people, have had to endure untold hardship and pressure. It is deplorable that thus far they have gone unnoticed.

Money has been made available for RUC widows. I welcome that, although it is long overdue. However, a precedent has now been set, and it is essential that UDR widows and families get satisfaction on this matter as soon as is practicable. Many of us can recall members of the UDR and the RIR who are no longer here to look after their families. We can recall the young children and families left at home and the derisory amount of money offered to them as a result of their breadwinner being murdered by the IRA.

Mr Roche:

Does the Member agree that it was Mr Martin McGuinness, as head of the northern command of the IRA, who was responsible for initiating as a major strategy the shooting of off-duty policemen and UDR men?

Mr Shannon:

I thank the Member for his intervention. That has been well illustrated in many books and papers.

I also want to focus on those people who are not the members of victims' groups. A young man from east Belfast came to my advice centre a few months ago. He had witnessed the murder of his father and brother, and for the last 20 years has been unable to forget that nightmare. He has lived it every minute, every hour, every week, every year for 20 years. He has been unable to hold down a job and is unfortunately unable to have an ordinary stable relationship, although he is married with a very young family. He is one of the people who are outside the victims' groups. Where do those such as this young man feature in this system? How will he be accommodated and where will financial assistance be made available to him to help him get over the trauma and distress that he has had over the last 20 years? Where will the help be for him and his wee family?

For over 30 years the gunmen of IRA/Sinn Féin have been employed in a campaign of terror throughout this country, leaving many thousands of families without husbands, wives, sons and daughters and leaving countless children orphans. The lives of these people have been irreversibly altered and they continue to suffer. However, over the past three decades they have been ignored, isolated and forgotten.

It is stomach-churning to listen to the arrogance of the Republican movement making public representations such as at the launch of the Human Rights Commission. One individual from that organisation asked what was going to be done to accommodate the poor unfortunate Republican prisoners who have been released on to the streets through the Belfast Agreement. That was his idea. Another individual wanted to know how the Irish language was going to be accommodated, while a third spoke about the deaths of rioters who had been shot by plastic bullets.

Let us put this into perspective. The voice of the true victims, the peace loving and the law-abiding citizens of Northern Ireland has again been relegated behind that of the terrorists and the gunmen. This is no surprise unfortunately, as those in the pro-democracy camp warned that this would happen before and ever since the signing of the agreement.

The landscape for the real victims of terror cannot be allowed to remain as it is. The policy, attitudes and financial assistance that will be available through Peace II must change, and the real victims must get their say. This new tranche of funding must be available to the victims of terrorism and put the focus on the families who today are living and continually reliving their experiences. They need our help.

Mr C Wilson:

Although my party welcomes any proposal to recognise the loss to the families of the innocent victims of terrorism, it is important that we put this matter into perspective. The problem was brought home to me very starkly when a lady representing one of the victims' groups spoke at the front of Castle Buildings.

On that occasion that group came up to point out to the British Government - Mr Tony Blair and the Secretary of State - that while they were inside negotiating with terrorists on the difficulties with the Belfast Agreement, the victims had been largely forgotten. Members of that group brought that home in a very graphic way with large posters and large display boards showing the thousands of innocent victims throughout Northern Ireland who had suffered as a result of the vicious and violent terrorist campaign over the last 30 years.

However, this lady had something to say about victims that the House would do well to remember. She said that for many years people such as herself, her friends and her neighbours, along the border counties in particular, had been suffering quietly and had borne their grief with pride and dignity. They were proud of the fact that sons, daughters and, in her case, husband had been prepared to sacrifice their lives - and their families had suffered as a result - because they were standing for democracy, law and order and justice.

This lady showed clearly that her husband had not been being discriminatory when he put his uniform on to go out and defend the community, because he protected the entire community - Catholics and Protestants, Nationalists and Unionists. We must never forget these people. The lady accurately reflected the view of many victims, particularly those whose families had suffered as a result of their commitment to providing law and order to this community.

She then witnessed the corruption of the democratic process and the fact that the RUC was to be dishonoured and disarmed at a time when the terrorists were being elevated. People who had been on the run, who were on wanted lists and who had been sought and pursued, as was right, by the security forces were then seen walking into negotiations to bring into being the Belfast Agreement. They were being fêted across the world in Washington and further afield, meeting world leaders and being treated as statesmen.

That spectacle activated those people to moving from bearing their pain with pride and dignity to a position in which they felt that, if nothing else, at least their families might get some recompense for the pain and suffering that they had borne.

I was keen to hear some of the remarks made today, because they reinforce the point that I am about to make. The formal signing and sealing of the Belfast Agreement led to the pollution of the democratic process and the destruction of the RUC. The people of Northern Ireland must continue to remember that fact.

Mr A Maginness:

Will the Member give way?

Mr C Wilson:

I am sorry, but I will not give way.

In the months ahead, the Belfast Agreement will place the representatives and frontmen of terror in the governing body of the new Police Service of Northern Ireland. They will be on the boards, managing and controlling the new service in their respective areas. Imagine the affront that will be caused to many, particularly those in the border counties. They will know that those who control the Police Service in their areas are the very people, organisations and those linked to organisations that put their loved ones in an early grave - those who were responsible for over 10,000 maimings, mutilations and murders throughout the Province.

Under this scheme we could witness the spectacle - if the Secretary of State's interpretation of the entry criteria for the new Police Service is correct - of people in border counties seeing those who, they know, murdered their loved ones wearing the uniform of the new Police Service. How would you feel if your father, mother, brother or sister was murdered by someone who was never brought to book for it? Do not dismiss this as notional or fanciful. The reality is that many people have never been brought to justice in Northern Ireland, particularly in County Armagh. There were several killings in that murder triangle over a short period, and only a small proportion of the perpetrators were brought to justice.

I move on - [Interruption]

Mr Speaker:

Order. I caution the Member that he has moved well away from the issue of victims and money for victims, which is the subject of the motion, and on to related but separate matters.

Mr C Wilson:

Insult has been added to injury in today's debate by the fact that those who front and are "inextricably linked to terrorist organisations" - an expression used by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State - as represented here by Sinn Féin and the PUP, have the effrontery to get up - [Interruption]

Mr Ervine:

Will the Member give way?

Mr C Wilson:


They have the effrontery to talk about what they can do for the victims. Despite their high-sounding words and their homilies to Members about the need to reach out and look forward, they are people who prepared to go into a pub and plant a bomb, with no better or greater excuse than the presence there of innocent Catholics or Protestants. In some way they consider those people to be the enemy.

Mr Speaker:

Order. The Member and his Colleague need to be careful about the direct accusations against other Members that they make in the Chamber. They may be covered legally in some circumstances against action, but they are not necessarily covered by parliamentary procedure in making direct accusations against Members when there have been no convictions on the basis of the actions that they describe. I simply caution the Member and refer to the comment made by a Colleague of his.

Mr Roche:

On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr Poots:

On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr Speaker:

I will take the point of order from Mr Roche and then the one from Mr Poots.

Mr Roche:

I thank you for your advice, Mr Speaker, but I would not like to think that procedure could be used in any way to silence debate in the Assembly. If you want me to, I will give you numerous references from respected and recognised authorities on the IRA to back up any statement that I ever make about the IRA.

Mr Speaker:

Order. My response to the Member is that order in this place is the same as in other places.

12.15 pm

When accusations are made about a Member, particularly when they are made without notice and in the absence of the Member, conventions of parliamentary procedure and courtesy are being breached. That matter is clear. The Member ought to read some of the parliamentary procedural documents that he is so fond of referring to. The issue that he raises about other evidence is not relevant.

Mr Poots:

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Outside this Chamber, an organisation cannot be defamed, but individuals in the organisation can. Mr Wilson mentioned organisations - not Members in the Chamber.

Mr Speaker:

The Member should read Hansard tomorrow. In fact, Mr Wilson went much further than mentioning only organisations. He referred to Members in the Chamber, and he referred to Members who had spoken. It was clear what was being referred to. That is why I cautioned the Member. I am not asking him to withdraw his comments at this point, but I have cautioned him.

Mr Molloy:

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think it would be worthwhile to read Hansard tomorrow because the previous Member did mention a member of my party by name, and we will be looking at that. Will you make a ruling on that?

Mr Speaker:

I have already advised the House that I will be studying the matter. The fact that I have raised the matter myself shows that I am doing my best to pay attention both to procedures and to what Members say.

Mr Ervine:

On a point of order, Mr Speaker - or perhaps a point of clarification. Having been alluded to, I believe, by the Member, do I have a right of reply?

Mr Speaker:


Mr C Wilson:

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will not be losing any sleep over any determination about what I have said today. I stand by every word.

Mr Speaker:

Order. The Member may not lose sleep, but he may for a while lose the right to be in his seat. Please continue.

Mr C Wilson:

That could also be borne.

People may think that my comments are harsh about the organisations that I have mentioned, but one has only got to put this matter into perspective. The organisations that I mentioned - Sinn Féin/IRA, and the terrorists represented in the Chamber by the PUP - are, at this moment sitting on huge piles of illegal weaponry. They refuse to hand those weapons in - weapons that are still being used almost daily for acts of terrorism and criminality and which we are told that they may need in the future. That is the sole purpose for those people having them. One should not believe that the leopards in those organisations have changed their spots or have had a great change of heart. That is the point on which I wish to end my comments. The reality is that the greatest-[Interruption]

Mr Ervine:

Will the Member give way?


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