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Assembly Elections

Volume 32: debated on Thursday 25 November 1982

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14.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the outcome of the recent elections to the Assembly in the Province.

The people of Northern Ireland have elected those whom they wish to represent them and the Assembly has now met. For the first time for eight years Northern Ireland has a locally elected Assembly which can get to grips with the Province's problems, not least in the economic sphere.

Does the Secretary of State agree that the non-participation by the SDLP and other minority parties means that the Northern Ireland Assembly is now a dead duck? Will he say what new positive initiatives he has in mind?

Hon. Members do neither their own cause not the cause of Northern Ireland any good by seeking to undermine and forecast events in Northern Ireland long before they are proved. I suggest that what is needed is a bit of patience, understanding and help.

In an endeavour to help the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, may I ask him to tell the House what initiatives he now has in mind for power-sharing, a parliamentary dimension, and an Anglo-Irish and a North-South dimension to encourage the SDLP to come to the Assembly?

It would be far better to allow things to settle down. I shall report later to the House.