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Volume 980: debated on Thursday 6 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on how many occasions during the last five years the Royal Ulster Constabulary has sought the extradition of persons from the Irish Republic in connection with explosions, murders and attempted murders in Northern Ireland: and on how many occasions these extradition requests have been granted.

Between 1 January 1975 and 31 December 1979 the RUC sent a total of 17 warrants to the Garda seeking the extradition of persons for the offences in question. Two of these persons have been extradited.

Are there not many more persons now resident in the Republic whom the RUC would like to interview? Is it a fact that the RUC has not made extradition requests in all cases where it was possible to do so? Why has it not done so, since the failure of the South to extradite murderers would expose it to public ridicule, which it richly deserves?

The hon. Gentleman will know that there are a number of reasons why extradition might not be sought. One reason is uncertainty about where the wanted man might be. It is not always certain that he is to be found in the Republic. There are occasions when the known practice of the Government in the Republic, in the light of their own High Court procedures, makes it obviously pointless even to try to secure extradition.

Although it is second-best to extradition, will my hon. Friend tell the House what progress is being made with cases brought under the criminal jurisdiction legislation?

We have successfully brought two prosecutions under the so-called extra-territorial legislation. My hon. Friend will know that that can apply only to cases relating to offences committed after 1 June 1976.

The Secretary of State recently said that three more cases were being taken under that legislation. What is the position in those cases? When are the prosecutions likely to be brought?

All the facts and papers have been sent to the authorities in the Republic. I cannot say when the cases will come forward. We have no reason to believe that there will be any untoward delay in the cases being brought to trial.