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Ira (Fund Raising)

Volume 894: debated on Thursday 26 June 1975

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17.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he has any estimate of the amount of money raised from United States sources in recent years to buy arms for the IRA in Northern Ireland.

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if his Department has made any estimate of the funds raised from United States sources to provide arms to the IRA or Provisional IRA over the last three years.

This is primarily a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and. Commonwealth Affairs. I understand, however, that the Irish Northern Aid Committee, which claims to be the only authorised fundraising agency in the United States for the Republican movement, registered remittances to Ireland of nearly $900,000 in the three years to January 1975. It is impossible to say how much of this has been used for the purchase of arms.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many well-intentioned but rather naive people in the United States are giving large sums of money to the organisation called Northern Irish Aid in the belief that it is being used for peaceful and compassionate purposes, whereas it is going directly or indirectly to the gunmen? Will he suggest to his right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary that he makes representations to the United States Government to try to correct this misapprehension in the minds of American citizens of Irish descent who are giving this money?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his remarks. My right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary keeps the American Government fully informed about the use of this money. I should also like to draw attention to the responsible leaders, in both North and South, such as Mr. John Hume, Dr. Fitzgerald and many others, who have gone to the United States and urged Americans not to make such contributions.

It is not the case that as the opinion of the present Government and other Governments, as well as the opinion of the House, in connection with the Irish troubles has become more and more known in America, the sums given to the dubious causes have lessened?

Yes, I believe that my hon. Friend is correct when he says that there has been a falling-off of such money, and obviously we welcome that. However, everyone can play a part in exposing this type of action.

Has any estimate been made of the amount of money raised in this country, through collections in public houses in some of the major cities, and remitted to Northern Ireland? Is this still continuing?

The people who may have found it rather easy a short while ago to raise such money are now finding it increasingly difficult.