asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent complaints he has received about the conduct of the RUC involving criminal acts; what investigation he has made of these complaints; what action he has taken; and if he will make a statement.
From 1st August 1974 to 31st January 1975 my right hon. Friend received four complaints alleging criminal acts by members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. They were passed to the Chief Constable for investigation in accordance with the procedure in Section 13 of the Police Act (Northern Ireland) 1970, and reports of the investigations have been, or will be, submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware of an advertisement which appeared in the Irish News last month, inserted by a Roman Catholic Priest, the Rev. Dennis Fall, in which he listed a number of reasons why the Roman Catholic community should not support the Royal Ulster Constabulary? He made a series of very serious, slanderous remarks against the RUC including one alleging that 4,000 Roman Catholic people had been picked up by the RUC for brutal treatment. He also said that the RUC was employing a black-heat room in Ballykelly and torturing people in it. He went on to assert that the RUC was not responding to the sectarian murders which had taken place in the Portadown, Armagh and Dungannon triangle. Does not the hon. Gentleman think he should answer those very serious charges against the RUC, since they have caused great concern among the rank and file of the RUC?
The advertisement in the newspaper to which the hon. Gentleman referred is without foundation. The RUC has made a very determined effort to hunt down sectarian murderers and has had considerable successes since Christmas. As far as I know, members of the RUC are not the least bit disturbed by advertisements of this kind, and they do not show signs of being so in the future either.
Does my hon. Friend agree that, in addition to the great difficulties of a political nature which confront us in Northern Ireland, we are not helped by sectarian attitudes between the two communities? Will he agree, further, that any hon. Member of this House who engages in sectarianism is only exacerbating a difficult situation and failing to grapple with the real political problems which are at the root of all the trouble in Northern Ireland?
I agree with those general statements of principle by my hon. Friend.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the RUC is doing a magnificent job in extremely difficult circumstances and that very few other police forces about the world could deal with the situation which it faces in a similar manner?
We have every confidence in the RUC to carry on the policing of the Province under the general arrangements which are made. I might say that at least half of the members of the RUC are new to the constabulary since the trouble started. It is to a large extent a new force compared with the one which existed in 1969.