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Irish Regiments

Volume 889: debated on Monday 24 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence why Irish regiments are not employed in Northern Ireland; and whether, having regard to the depletion of Her Majesty's Forces and the frequent tours served by many British units in the Province, he will reconsider Her Majesty's Government's policy in the matter.

It has been the policy of successive Governments that Irish regiments should not be employed in Northern Ireland, and I do not propose to change it. These regiments, which are recruited from both religious groups in the community, have not been stationed in Northern Ireland since 1933 except for training, staging or ceremonial duties, and it has always been considered that it would not be right to involve them in the sectarian bitterness which is such a tragic feature of the situation in Northern Ireland. The regiments do, of course, take their share of unaccompanied service in the Army as a whole, thereby helping in the problem of finding units for emergency tours.