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Dissident Activity

Volume 525: debated on Wednesday 23 March 2011

11. What assessment he has made of trends in the level of dissident activity in Northern Ireland. (47502)

Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating the Garda on the outstanding co-operation over the past few weeks, particularly over the arrest of several dissidents just south of the border?

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for his continued interest in Northern Ireland, and we value his experience. I wholeheartedly wish to place on the record our tribute to the Garda for the work that they have done. We have an unprecedented level of co-operation with them: I have met Martin Callinan, the new commissioner; I met the Taoiseach in Washington last week; and I will be visiting Dublin soon to follow up my recent discussions with the new Tanaiste and Justice Minister. We are indebted to the work that the Garda have done and by working with them we will bear down on these unrepresentative dangerous terrorists.

The dissident threat level remains high. Yesterday, the Secretary of State announced the end of the 50:50 discrimination rule in recruitment to the police. Will he join us next week in ensuring that the 10 years of discrimination against young Protestants is completely at an end, and in ensuring that young Protestants and young Catholics can join that police service to combat dissident threat levels and ensure a return to normality in Northern Ireland?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his question. We are happy that the Police Service of Northern Ireland now represents the community and offers a career path that attracts people from all across it. The issue is now in devolved hands, which is where it should be.