This is today’s question from Michael Connarty MP in the British House of Commons. It should have been answered by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers MP. She ducked and the question was answered – erroneously as I have already written – by her Minister of State, Mike Penning.
Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (Lab):
When the most recent report of the investigation into the McGurk’s bar bombing will be made public?
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mike Penning):
I understand that the most recent public report into that tragic event was published by the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland in February 2011. I tried to place a copy in the House today but have been told that that is not possible, but it will be on the police ombudsman’s website and it is available now.
I am disappointed that the Minister of State is replying, as I would have thought that the Secretary of State would have taken the chance to repeat her apology to me and to the people affected by the McGurk’s bar bombing, which was the biggest bombing before Omagh. Do the Government accept that they cannot devolve the past and that their response should ensure that the suppression of witnesses that happened and the expert evidence that was given but then supplanted by lies and fabrication from the Northern Ireland police are not allowed to continue, so that we get to the truth about the collusion that took place before and after the bomb?
We are grateful to the hon. Gentleman.
At the outset, let me pay tribute to the work that the hon. Gentleman has done over the years. I know I upset him the other week when I was slightly robust, but Mr Speaker has also rebuked me for being too soft and quietly spoken in the past couple of weeks. Let us put it this way: I served in the Province and am very proud to have done so. No bomb is acceptable and we must get to the truth.
Heaven forbid if a Unionist politician could give us any support without indulging in vacuous whataboutery, however garbled:
Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP):
Will the Minister of State acknowledge that I am a member of the second largest party of opposition in this House—that is, not the Labour party—and indicate what other reports by the Historical Enquiries Team are pending on other atrocities in Northern Ireland? Will he demonstrate that the HET must do more to reassure the majority community, as republicans murdered Protestants in Northern Ireland in cold blood and the HET should demonstrate that in its publications and findings?
The issue has been raised with me on more than one occasion. I have continually looked into the evidence base and if the hon. Gentleman has evidence that such work is not taking place across the political divide in Northern Ireland, he should come and see me about it. He knows that he will get a welcome response.
No doubt Michael Connarty will hammer home their error at a later date as it is obvious he has been very actively lobbying on our behalf in the corridors of power.