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Police Authority

Volume 124: debated on Thursday 10 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent discussions he has had with the chairman of the Police Authority for Northern Ireland; and what matters were discussed.

My right hon. Friend last met the chairman of the Police Authority for Northern Ireland on 23 November to discuss matters relating to the authority's responsibilities. The details are confidential.

Following that discussion, will the Minister give an assurance that the Army uniforms, which were apparently supplied by Mr. Frank Turner of QED to the RUC for cash and sent to Northern Ireland in an unmarked lorry, were not, and will not at any time, be used by RUC personnel or others to pose as British service men?

The hon. Gentleman has tabled a considerable number of written questions about that matter. I hope that he will wait until we give the answers to them.

Will the Secretary of State confirm that, since 1965, 733 people have been extradited to Great Britain from the Republic of Ireland and 158 from the Republic of Ireland to the north of Ireland, giving a total of 891? Given the views of the Chief Constable of the RUC about extradition—

The views of the Chief Constable of the RUC on this issue are very important. In the light of his views and the figures that I have given, is the view that Britain is a less-favoured nation in respect of extradition very inaccurate?

The Government attach profound importance to the fact that there should be no hiding place for terrorists either north or south of the border and that extradition arrangements must reflect that policy.

Is the Minister aware that the spirit of rapprochement, generated as a result of the atrocity in Enniskillen among ordinary people, is being dissipated by sectarian killings? Will he make it clear to the chairman of the Police Authority that we must do everything possible to get people to support the police and to reduce the number of unemployed in Northern Ireland by encouraging them to join the police force? I ask the Minister to appeal to the people of Northern Ireland fully to support the security forces.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we make that appeal at every possible opportunity. It is of profound importance that the entire community gives every support to the security forces. That is a fundamental requirement and we shall continue to make that point clear at every opportunity.

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether, when he had talks with the chairman of the Police Authority, he discussed the fact that none of the SDLP representatives have ever called upon their people to join the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Ulster Defence Regiment or the British Army? Will he remedy that position by calling upon them now to do so, after the attack on the Ulster Democratic Unionist Members, when their own leader refused to talk to the Unionist party leadership and chose to talk to the IRA?

It is the Government's clear policy that the security forces in the Province, whether the Royal Ulster Constabulary or the Ulster Defence Regiment, should be open to people from both communities. We wish to see the strongest representation from representatives of all religious denominations in the security forces in the Province.