Dáil Éireann - Volume 330 - 17 November, 1981

Death of Reverend Robert Bradford, MP: Expression of Sympathy.

The Taoiseach: Before we begin our normal business I would like to refer to the brutal murder, by the Provisional IRA, of the Reverend Robert Bradford, MP in Belfast on Saturday last. His death and that of Mr. Ken Campbell, caretaker at the Finaghy Community Centre, are part of a calculated series of atrocities committed in recent days. I know that all the people we represent share the sense of sorrow, anger and outrage widely felt in Northern Ireland at present.

The killing of an elected representative of the people calls for particular condemnation in the strongest possible terms and serves to remind us of the real objectives of the organisation responsible. The IRA has once again shown its utter contempt for human life and for the democratic process which it has recently sought to distort for its own ends. Its true attitude to democracy and freedom was summed up in a recent statement of an IRA spokesman who, when asked by an interviewer for a foreign newspaper about the wishes of the people in this part of the country concerning an aspect of reunification, replied, “We call the shots. We don't really give a damn what they want”.

The first clear objective of the killers of Mr. Bradford was to incite vengeance among Loyalist extremists and thus to expose once again to murderous retaliation the innocent among the most vulnerable community in this island, the Catholics of Northern Ireland. This has already begun to happen. The sectarian killings of Belfast and Lurgan are a direct and intended result of the Provisionals' campaign of recent weeks, a campaign itself trenchantly described last Saturday by John Hume as one of “sectarian genocide” directed against Protestants.

I join with those brave and responsible [2154] leaders, clerical and lay, in Northern Ireland who have said to the Unionists and Loyalists: “Do not become the prisoners of the Provisional IRA's strategy. Do not respond as they have intended and planned that you should do — in anger and in a manner that could escalate violence to new levels of horror and ultimately undermine your rights and liberties.”

The Rev. Mr. Bradford had, for some time, considered an attempt on his life to be a strong possibility. It is a tribute to his courage that he did not flinch from that danger.

On behalf of the House I would ask you, Ceann Comhairle, to extend our deepest sympathy to Mrs. Bradford and her family.

Mr. Haughey: On behalf of the Opposition I join with the Taoiseach in condemning the assassination of the Reverend Robert Bradford, MP, and wish to convey our deepest sympathy to his widow and family. We condemn also the murder of Ken Campbell and Thomas McNulty and the grievous wounding of Stephen Murphy, who are all the most recent victims of the tragic violence in Northern Ireland. To their families and relatives also we send our condolences.

We support fully the many appeals that have been made for forbearance and calm. We urge that every effort be made to preserve peace and to avoid further sectarian strife, violence, suffering and loss of life. Our anxious sympathy goes out to the people of Northern Ireland in this hour of danger and travail.

Members rose in their places.