Northern Ireland Assembly
Tuesday 4 July 2000 (continued)
Rev Dr I Paisley:
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.
Mr P Doherty:
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 -
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.
Mr P Doherty:
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.
The First Minister (Mr Trimble):
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]
Order. I cannot permit conversations to go backwards and forwards sotto voce between sedentary Members. That is not acceptable.
The First Minister:
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.
Mr P Robinson:
Rubbish. You do not even know what you are talking about. Absolute rubbish. Lies.
The First Minister:
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-
On a point of order, Mr Speaker.
The First Minister:
No, Mr Speaker, he can have his own words later. [Laughter]
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.
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.
The First Minister:
The truth of the matter-
Rev Dr Ian Paisley:
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Will you tell the House what would have happened if one person had said "No" that day?
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.
Mr P Robinson:
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?
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.
Mr P Robinson:
You would have had to change the recess.
Even if the recess were changed. I have been asked a question, which I have answered to the best of my knowledge.
The First Minister:
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.
Mr A Maginness:
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.
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.
Mr C Wilson:
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 -
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.
Mr C Wilson:
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.
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.
Mr C Wilson:
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Of course, one -
Rev Dr Ian Paisley:
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.
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.
Mr C Wilson:
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.
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.