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Arms And Explosives

Volume 888: debated on Thursday 13 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he is satisfied with the arrangements for co-operation with the Government of the Republic regarding the movement of arms and explosives across the United Kingdom/Eire border.

There is continuing and close liaison in this matter. We are constantly seeking, in consultation with the authorities in the Republic, to improve the arrangements for detecting and preventing such movement.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that answer. Is he aware that in the two years of 1973 and 1974 some two tons of commercial explosives were captured by the security forces in Northern Ireland that had been manufactured in Eire? Is he aware that during the same period the security forces also captured some 50,000 lb. of ammonium nitrate, which would be the product of approximately 30 tons of fertiliser? Bearing in mind the difficulties that the IRA must experience in extracting such a tremendous amount of ammonium nitrate from fertiliser, can the Minister still be satisfied with the co-operation he is receiving?

Yes. I have spoken to many police officers with responsibility on the border. They all speak highly of co-operation across the border. The hon. Gentleman will agree that the supplies about which is he is talking are on a downward plane.

Is the Minister aware of the widespread reports that an Irishman wanted in connection with the murder of Police Constable Stephen Tibble fled to the Irish Republic, where he is now in prison on another charge? Did he escape via Northern Ireland? What representations have been made to the Eire Government to discover whether the wanted man will be tried in the Irish Republic or extradited to the United Kingdom? What reply has been received?

As regards the hon. Gentleman's last point, that is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department. I would not wish to comment on the hon. Gentleman's first point.