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Volume 86: debated on Thursday 14 November 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the security and safety aspects in various council chambers following the election of various Sinn Fein councillors.

Representations have been made to Ministers that the election of Sinn Fein councillors may have prejudiced the security of other councillors and of council employees. The situation is being kept under review.

Is it not worrying that so many Unionist members who are in the majority on their councils, have now adjourned those council meetings throughout Ulster? At present, 17 councils are not sitting. Some people may say that while the councils have been adjourned nothing has happened and, therefore, they have not been needed, but would it not be better if we proscribed the IRA and Sinn Fein council members, and ensured that they could not stand for office in future?

My hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire, North (Mr. Needham), the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, is meeting a large number of deputations from various councils within Northern Ireland and, in due course, will report to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State about that. On the substance of my hon. Friend's original question, obviously I recognise the fears, sometimes exaggerated, of those on councils. I wish to emphasise that any individual who feels that he may be at risk can raise that matter with the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which will be ready to give him appropriate advice.

Since 16 of the 26 local councils in Northern Ireland are now on strike, does the Minister accept that his policy has failed? Does he recognise that he practises double standards by refusing to meet Sinn Fein representatives, yet demanding that the elected councillors in Northern Ireland should work with Sinn Fein?

I do not recognise that. There is a difference between elected representatives on councils who have competed with Sinn Fein members, and those responsible centrally for governing Northern Ireland, who try to draw the greatest disinction, within the law, between those who follow constitutional politics and those who reject constitutional politics. As to the other part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I refer him to what I said earlier.

Is the Minister aware of how many Sinn Fein council members in Northern Ireland are wanted by the RUC for murder? How many of them are well-known murderers who have blood on their hands? Does the Minister agree that quite a number of those elected councillors were murderers and are still murderers in their hearts?

I could name several, but one is Davey, the finger man in south Londonderry.

If the RUC has evidence that a councilor or anyone else has committed an offence, he will be brought before the courts and charged.