Skip to main content


Volume 972: debated on Thursday 25 October 1979

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many terrorist incidents have been recorded in police divisions H, J, K, L, M, N, O and P during the first nine months of 1979 in which the terrorists involved either operated from the Republic of Ireland or sought sanctuary there after committing their crimes; and how many people died in these incidents.

Between 1 January and 30 September 1979 the Royal Ulster Constabulary recorded 63 terrorist incidents in those police divisions which required contact with the Garda in view of possible use of the border by those responsible. In the course of those incidents, 35 people died.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that while the figures, particularly those relating to deaths, are shocking, they will not surprise the people who live along the border? Does he agree that the figures nail once and for all the Jack Lynch lie that less than 3 per cent. of terrorism in Northern Ireland emanates from the Republic? What the Secretary of State has said today sounds for all the world like the blarney he must have heard in Dublin. When will he do something to prevent another 30 or 40 people from being killed in Northern Ireland?

On the question of the 3 per cent. figure, there has been a different method of calculating about border incidents. The matter is no longer discussed between us on that basis. The hon. Gentleman calls for stronger measures. We have been seeking to get agreement with the Republic that we should make a better joint effort on both sides of the border. I stress the word "joint", which was stressed in the communiqués issued after my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister met Mr. Lynch in September and after I met the Irish Ministers in October. The communiqués said that it was agreed between us that we have to make a joint effort in a common cause.

The hon. Gentleman's constituency is particularly affected since one end of it is on the border. It is the belief of myself and the Government of the Republic that what we have set in motion will be a considerable help in inhibiting the movement of terrorists, stopping people escaping from justice, stopping the supply of weapons coming through and the like. We have the agreement and we must do our utmost to make it work as effectively as possible. I believe that it will be effective.

May I take the right hon. Gentleman back to the question that I put earlier, which he said he would answer more fully later in Question Time? On the questions of extradition—which the right hon. Gentleman said was necessary after the Lord Mountbatten murders—hot pursuit, which he has also said is necessary, and the RUC having the opportunity to question suspects arrested on the other side of the border for crimes committed in Northern Ireland, we have to ask what progress the right hon. Gentleman has made, bearing in mind that Jack Lynch said yesterday that there will be no hot pursuit and that none of the matters to which I have referred will be taken care of.

On the question of hot pursuit, I said that it was very frustrating for security forces pursuing a suspect towards the border to have to stop and allow the suspect to escape unpursued over the border. There are various ways of pursuing suspects. I shall not go into detail, but I am satisfied that the apprehension of terrorists in either jurisdiction will be easier and more effective than before. The hon. Gentleman said that I was going to demand that members of the RUC should be able to interrogate people in the Republic of Ireland. I assure him that the obtaining of evidence against suspects in the Republic will now be a great deal easier.