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National Security Protocols

Volume 508: debated on Wednesday 24 March 2010

5. What recent discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on the national security protocols to be used after the devolution of policing and justice matters. (322977)

I have discussed the national security protocol with a range of individuals and organisations in Northern Ireland. The current text addresses a number of concerns raised in those discussions.

I thank the Secretary of State for his reply. The intelligence services withheld information from the investigation into the tragedy of the Omagh bombing, and allegations have recently been made about the intelligence services’ role in the death of Kieran Doherty in Derry. What further discussions will he have with the Northern Ireland Executive to prevent such things from happening and to facilitate future investigations? He told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that it would become more likely that the intelligence services would co-operate, but more likely is not good enough.

I am sure that the House will want to pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman, who has been an assiduous Member of Parliament for 23 years and was a founding member of his party. We wish him well in the future.

I am of course considering the Select Committee’s report, but I remind the House that Sir Peter Gibson published his report last year and that after he examined the information available on the day, he concluded that

“to the extent that any relevant intelligence was derived from interception, it was shared with RUC…and Special Branch South promptly and fully”.

I join the Secretary of State in paying tribute to the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady), who has always been an assiduous and hard-working Member of Parliament.

Does the Secretary of State recall that, alongside discussions with the Executive about the national security protocols, there was consideration of finance and other related matters, including the transfer of four military sites? Will he use his influence to ensure that the promise given by the Prime Minister is not broken by the Ministry of Defence, which is trying to hold on to elements of those sites?

The right hon. Gentleman knows that the bases are being transferred to the Executive as part of the generous devolution package that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I agreed at Hillsborough castle. There are, of course, outstanding points of detail in relation to those bases, but I am confident that they will be solved to everyone’s satisfaction. [Interruption.]

Order. I appeal to the House to settle down. We are discussing extremely important matters and I think that the people of Northern Ireland deserve a bit better.