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Volume 86: debated on Thursday 14 November 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the security situation in Northern Ireland.


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the current security situation.


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the current security situation in the Province.

Since my predecessor last answered questions in the House on 11 July, eight civilians and two members of the security forces have died as a result of the security situation in the Province.

The security forces have continued to show great determination in their efforts to defeat terrorism. Since the beginning of this year a total of 435 people have been charged with serious offences, including 23 with murder, and 206 weapons, 11,524 rounds of ammunition and 6,121 lb of explosives have been recovered.

In the light of the exchanges, and in the light of what the Secretary of State said, in his heart of hearts does he not agree with his security advisers that any Irish promises of effective co-operation will be meaningless, worthless and incapable of delivery? In effect, the only result from the granting of any kind of consultative role on security matters will be to inhibit and damage the efforts of our own British security forces.

No, I do not accept that. At local level there is certainly good co-operation along the border between the RUC and the Garda Siochana. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman and all hon. Members will look for continuing efforts to improve that co-operation in a common attempt to defeat terrorism, which is just as much an increasing threat south of the border as it is north of the border.

Is not the police reservist who was shot within the last 24 hours in Aughnacloy the first victim and the first tangible result of the Anglo-Irish process? It is a process that can be summed up in a single word—betrayal.

I have to say to my hon. Friend that that is a most disgraceful comment. There is no justification whatever for it. As an hon. Member of this House, he shares a responsibility with other hon. Members not to prejudge situations, but to wait and judge them on the facts. He knows perfectly well that it is the determination of this Government, as I hope it is the determination of every hon. Member, to act more effectively against terrorism, reduce the loss of life and reduce the number of casualties that have been such a tragic stain on the life of the Province.

Does the Secretary of State accept that the signing of any agreement, and the setting up of any secretariat in Northern Ireland which would permit representatives of a foreign Government to be in Northern Ireland, will be seen as the greatest possible insult to the loyal citizens of the Province? Those citizens have historically been supportive of the British Government. Does he recognise, as we see clearly, that such an agreement and such a secretariat will be an immediate encouragement to further murder and bombing, because the gunmen and the bombers will recognise that they have brought this about and will proceed further?

At this stage, I know that the hon. Gentleman will not want to speculate on the contents of any agreement that may be reached. I also know that he will not wish to make any inflammatory comments without full knowledge of the facts.

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that if there is one group of people who wish him well in seeking to reach agreement and turn down the graph of terrorism, it is those men and women in Northern Ireland who suffer most, the members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary? They will not regard it as betrayal if he can achieve an agreement. Will my right hon. Friend nevertheless recognise that while operational arrangements between the Garda and the RUC in general are excellent, they are not helped by public squabbling between the two chief constables?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that tribute. One of the most vivid impressions made on me when I took over my responsibilities was the enormous contribution made and the amazing courage shown by members of the security forces, whether the RUC, the UDR or the British Army units posted there. It is right that this House should recognise the real results that they are achieving in the fight against terrorism.

On the question of punishing large-scale criminal activity, what efforts, if any, has the right hon. Gentleman made to ensure that John De Lorean is returned to Northern Ireland to stand trial for his crimes against Irish people?