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Security Threat

Volume 525: debated on Wednesday 23 March 2011

9. What recent assessment he has made of the level of threat to security in Northern Ireland posed by residual terrorist groups; and if he will make a statement. (47500)

The threat level in Northern Ireland remains at severe. This Government continue to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland in countering the small but dangerous groups who regularly endanger the lives of police officers and the general public. That is demonstrated by the recent exceptional provision of an additional £200 million for the PSNI over the next four years to combat the threat.

I am sure Members of all parties will join me in condemning the small number of dissidents who continue to use violence. Will my right hon. Friend reiterate how important it is for the public to co-operate with the PSNI by passing on any information that could lead to taking terrorists off our streets?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to draw attention to the role that the public can play. The PSNI now has broad support across the community, and as Robert Peel said, the police are citizens in uniform. If the Antrim road bomb had gone off, members of the public would have been maimed by a device put on a bicycle.

I thank Members for their silence.

Given that during the troubles terrorist organisations murdered 102 members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary reserve, and that the Secretary of State could not attend a thanksgiving service for the reserve at St Anne’s cathedral on Sunday, will he please take this opportunity to put on record his appreciation of the outstanding courage and enormous sacrifice of the RUC reserve?

I wholeheartedly endorse the hon. Lady’s comments. Unfortunately, the Minister of State and I had long-standing commitments that we could not break, but we were ably represented by my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth West (Conor Burns), who stood in for us, and who will have visited several people there and expressed the same opinions we would have expressed had we been in his place.