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Security Situation

Volume 470: debated on Wednesday 9 January 2008

The security situation in Northern Ireland has vastly improved in recent years. However, the recent serious, although isolated, incidents highlight the continued threat posed by a small handful of individuals who continue to live in the past, not the future.

What success are the police having in dealing with dissident organisations that are now turning their focus from terrorist to criminal activities?

The police continue to make significant progress in dealing with criminality in Northern Ireland, which is why crime figures there are among the best in the UK. However, at no point will we be complacent about those dissident elements in republicanism and loyalism that continue to pose a small and isolated threat. Equally, let it be clear that those people have no support in the community and that we will continue to hunt them down.

While the security situation has undoubtedly improved, does the Secretary of State agree that it would be entirely wrong and a deep injustice if the perpetrators of terrorist crimes in Northern Ireland were to be granted an amnesty?

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. I realise that he is effectively commenting on remarks made by the commission on the past. Let me remind him that its deputy chairman, Denis Bradley, has said that nothing is ruled out and that nothing is ruled in, and what matters is that the commission collects views. He accepted that there are some who have a view about an amnesty and that it is for others to have a view about that and for the group to make an assessment of that.