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Volume 990: debated on Thursday 7 August 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the security situation in Northern Ireland.


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about the security situation.

During the month since I answered questions in the House on 10 July, the security forces have continued, often unobtrusively but with unrelenting determination and patience, to pre-empt terrorist attacks and to pursue and arrest those responsible for criminal acts. Progress continues to be made, gradually but inexorably.

In support of this, I remind the House that so far this year 309 people have been brought before the courts and charged with terrorist-type crimes, including 41 with murder and 30 with attempted murder. In addition, 125 weapons and more than 13,000 rounds of ammunition have been recovered. The past four weeks alone saw 29 people charged with terrorist crimes: four for murder and two for attempted murder. A number of important arrests have been made in the Republic of Ireland.

I regret, however, that since 10 July three people have been killed, two of them soldiers. One soldier was shot dead on 19 July in front of his wife and parents-in-law in a public house in Londonderry. He was on compassionate, leave from the Army and had been visiting his wife who had given birth to a stillborn child. The second soldier was killed in an explosion at Aughnacloy on 27 July in which another soldier was seriously injured. The third person, a young civilian, was fatally wounded in South Belfast by a member of an RUC patrol. This case is under investigation and the RUC will be submitting a full report to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make a statement about the killing on Sunday of Private William John Clarke of the UDR?

This murder, if that is what it was—I assume that it was—took place in the Republic of Ireland. I am afraid that I cannot give the House any further information.

Order. Although it is time for Prime Minister's questions, I shall call the other hon. Member whose question is being answered and allow extra time at the end of Prime Minister's questions.

In view of the grave concern felt by Ulster people, will the Secretary of State agree to the request that I have made repeatedly in the past, to the effect that the Northern Ireland Committee should meet at Stormont to discuss these matters as well as the grave economic, industrial and social problems?

The hon. Gentleman should address that request to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. I understand that that cannot take place under our Standing Orders.