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Dissident Violence

Volume 518: debated on Wednesday 10 November 2010

9. What assessment he has made of the reasons for the recent increase in the level of dissident violence in Northern Ireland. (22156)

This violence is a direct response to the continued political progress in Northern Ireland. Those people are outdated and backward-looking. All that they have to offer is to destabilise the peace process and disadvantage the people of Northern Ireland, but they will not succeed. The Government take the terrorist threat in Northern Ireland extremely seriously. There have been 39 attacks so far this year, compared with 22 throughout 2009.

I heard what the Secretary of State had to say earlier about the operations of the police in the Republic. Can he also give me some assurance that there is intelligence sharing between the Northern Irish Government and that in Dublin?

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for his question, and for his interest in Northern Ireland affairs. I do not think I can give a better example than the fact that the current Chief Constable always had good relations with his neighbour when he was chief constable of Leicestershire, but has said that his relations with Fachtna Murphy, the Garda commissioner, are even better. I should like publicly to pay tribute to Fachtna Murphy, who is, sadly, retiring at the end of the year. He has been a great friend of Northern Ireland. The collaboration between the Garda and the PSNI is at an exceptional level, and I look forward to helping it continue.

The Secretary of State will be aware of the recent series of dissident republican operations in my constituency, including the bomb at a railway bridge and a previous bomb that almost killed three local children. Does he share the Chief Constable’s current assessment of the levels of resources and manpower available to the PSNI?

I am grateful for that question. I am also pleased to send on my sympathies to the hon. Gentleman’s constituents who have been subject to such intolerable attacks, which, thankfully, have not caused death or injury. Last week the Chief Constable said:

“We are absolutely putting huge resources back in, we are going to sustain that next year and the year after until those responsible are brought to justice or they can be persuaded to give up.”