CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

NORTHERN IRELAND – THE BRITISH ARMY'S ROLE – 13 October 2005

Dr Julian Lewis: The Secretary of State paid a well-deserved tribute to the bravery of the police, various politicians – both living and no longer living – and the victims. However, one group of people to whom he perhaps inadvertently did not pay tribute was the men and women of the British Army and the security services, without whom we would not be in the position that we are in today. He said that it had taken a long time for the IRA to realise that violence did not pay, but surely the British Army and the security services gave it that realisation. Is it not fortunate that the prescription of those who signed up to the troops out movement at the height of the troubles was ignored by successive Governments?

[The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Peter Hain): Yes, it was. I agree with the hon. Gentleman and I am glad that he has given me the opportunity to endorse his point that the Army has played an important role. I stress that 1,200 soldiers backing up the police during the Whiterock weekend helped to hold the line and ensure not only that the violence was contained – despite pretty vicious attacks, including murder attempts – but that it did not spill over into nationalist areas, which was the intention of some of the paramilitaries and others involved in the rioting. That would have created an enormous conflagration, although it was avoided.]