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Republic Of Ireland (Extradition)

Volume 22: debated on Monday 26 April 1982

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asked the Attorney-General if he has had discussions with the new Attorney-General of the Republic of Ireland about extradition arrangements between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

I have been in touch with the new Attorney-General of the Republic of Ireland with a view to resuming the discussions initiated last year with his predecessor. I hope to meet Mr. Connolly very soon for personal talks at which we can carry the discussions forward.

When my right hon. and learned Friend meets his opposite number in the Republic of Ireland, will he seek the maximum co-operation in bringing suspected terrorists to justice? Will he emphasise that such co-operation is in the best interests of both countries?

In my discussions with Mr. Peter Sutherland, the former Attorney-General in the Republic, those issues were very much in mind and agreed upon. I have no reason to believe that I shall not find exactly the same response from the new Attorney-General.

Did the Attorney-General for the Republic refer to the supposed constitutional difficulty in the way of the Republic's ratifying the suppression of terrorism convention? If so, did my right hon. and learned Friend remind him that such difficulty was not apparent when the Republic ratified the genocide convention, which contains similar provisions?

I have always made it clear that the ability of terrorists to shelter behind the exception of political offenders is one of the major obstacles facing us. The Irish side is well aware of this. A number of ways of overcoming the difficulty are available and they were discussed during my previous talks. However, I am not prepared to go into details of what were private and confidential discussions.

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say how many cases we have submitted to the Republic of Ireland to be tried there on the basis of evidence taken in the United Kindgom or in Northern Ireland?

I cannot give the exact number off the cuff. I shall write to the hon. Gentleman. However, he will no doubt share my pleasure in finding that the response to those requests over the past few months has been quick and effective.