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Northern Ireland Ports

Volume 14: debated on Tuesday 8 December 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence what vessels of the Royal Navy are normally based in Northern Ireland ports.

The Fleet tenders HMS "Alert" and HMS "Vigilant", and the Ulster RNR vessel HMS "Laleston".

Does my hon. Friend agree that successive Governments have continually ignored the strategic significance of Northern Ireland waters, not least in connection with NATO? Will my hon. Friend have another look at this matter, with a view to stepping up significantly the Royal Navy presence there?

I hope that my hon. Friend is not simply referring to basing, because the surveillance of the seas around Northern Ireland is the same as around all our other coasts.

Is my hon. Friend aware that while we regularly and properly pay tribute to the security forces in Northern Ireland, there is a tendency to forget the Royal Navy's surveillance work around our coasts? Will he say that we have not forgotten it?

I am sure that what my hon. Friend says will be welcomed by the sailors who, as he rightly says, do a first class-job in stopping illicit gun-running and other activities in that area.