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Security Situation

Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 23 May 2007

6. What recent assessment he has made of the security situation in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. (137961)

The security situation continues to improve beyond recognition, as last month’s report from the Independent Monitoring Commission made clear. But the report also shows that more is still needed from loyalist paramilitary groups to demonstrate their commitment to peace, and that dissident republicans continue to present a security threat.

Further to the question asked by the hon. Member for South Antrim (Dr. McCrea), does the Minister agree that with the Provisional IRA army council in place, the IRA has a ready-made infrastructure to rebuild a terrorist capability rapidly at any time? Now that Sinn Fein is in government, surely the time has come for it finally to sever any links with its sister organisation the IRA? Otherwise, how can the Ulster public have real confidence in Sinn Fein Ministers?

With the normalisation of the security situation—and, we hope, the eventual delegation of full powers to the Welsh Assembly—is it not time to think about merging the Northern Ireland Office into an office for the nations and regions, providing a logical structure for administering the nations of the United Kingdom and the regions of England?

The House will note the hon. Gentleman’s representations, but there has been all sorts of speculation about that and I do not intend to pursue it.