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Volume 892: debated on Wednesday 21 May 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Libya about the illegal entry of arms, explosives and ammunition into Northern Ireland.

As I told the House on 18th December, we have made it very clear to the Libyan Government that we regard any support for the IRA as interference in the internal affairs of the United Kingdom.

What evidence do the Government have that arms and ammunition are coming into Ulster from Libya?

There are indications that the IRA has received some aid and training from Libya, but it represents only a small proportion of all the aid that it receives from external sources. Most of the arms supplied come from countries other than Libya—probably mostly illegally smuggled from the United States. In the past two years we have ensured that no arms which could be of use to the IRA are sold to Libya.

Have Her Majesty's Government made the same representation to the Governments of the other countries from which these arms are coming?

Certainly we have made it absolutely clear that any support for the IRA, from whatever source and in whatever way, is interference in the internal affairs of the United Kingdom. I was encouraged recently to read a report of a speech made by the Libyan Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs in which he said that Libya does not wish to interfere in Irish affairs. I hope that this means the end of Libyan support for the IRA.

Were not the views expressed in Libya by representatives of the Irish Parliament helpful in this respect?

That is absolutely right. It was a useful visit and did a great deal to bring to the attention of the Libyan leaders the true situation in Ireland. It did a lot to dispel a number of misapprehensions which some of the Libyan leaders clearly had.