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Northern Ireland Act 1982

Volume 32: debated on Thursday 25 November 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will introduce legislation to repeal the Northern Ireland Act 1982.

As we cannot force people to be free, when does the Secretary of State expect to bring together representative groups throughout Ireland with a view to discussing a united and independent Ireland at an early date?

The Government remain committed to the principle of self-determination, which was made statutory by the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973. The Assembly elections showed conclusively that the majority of voters favour the maintenance of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. That remains the main plank of the Government's platform.

If the Secretary of State does not intend to repeal the Act, will he amend the legislation that was passed by Parliament on the mistaken assumption that the minority, as defined by the Secretary of State, would participate in the Assembly?

No, Sir. Nor do I think that there was any such assumption by Parliament.

In view of the election of five members of Sinn Fein, which is dedicated to the use of the Armalite bullet as well as the ballot box, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that he needs to redefine what he means by widespread community support?

No. There are several ways in which widespread community support can be defined. I suggest that the Social Democratic and Labour Party is an important part of that.