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Security Situation

Volume 671: debated on Wednesday 5 February 2020

In the light of the answer that the Secretary of State has given, can he advise the House what steps the Government are taking to ensure a smooth transition and continued security and peace in Northern Ireland when the withdrawal agreement transition period comes to an end on 31 December?

There are very good discussions with the EU on security matters, and there are very strong bonds with the Irish Government. I remain confident that the security situation that I have just described can be well managed with our current relationships and within the remit of the transition agreement.

Will my right hon. Friend join me in condemning the continued presence of dissident organisations in Northern Ireland, and will he say that there is no place in our society for those who peddle hate and division?

I agree with my hon. Friend. We have to condemn the ongoing activities of dissident republicans. I pay tribute to the police and to our security services for all the work that they do to make sure that Northern Ireland remains safe.

What about those who have been responsible for security in years gone by? When will the Government put an end to the vexatious claims against our brave armed forces?

We have said—and the Prime Minister could not be clearer on this—that we will end vexatious claims, for both the police and the armed forces. We look forward to bringing forward legislation in that regard in due course.

I welcome that the Secretary of State just said he is going to end vexatious complaints against police officers. In the light of that, will he commit to meet Mark Lindsay, the chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, and officers from the Retired Police Officers Association, so that they can put to him their grave concerns about the non-criminal charges that it has been suggested should be levelled at former serving brave police officers in Ulster?

The Secretary of State will know that the Stormont House agreement is the process agreed by all parties, after consultation with victims, on how to address the legacy of the troubles on the basis of truth, justice and reconciliation. Does he agreed that that is the settled process, and is he confident that the Government will stick to it and to the principle that everybody is equal before the law?

I am confident that we can deliver on the Government’s priority of ending vexatious claims for our armed forces and the police, but I also look forward to working with all parties in Northern Ireland to develop a consensus on how we move forward on the Stormont House agreement.

Will the Secretary of State join me in welcoming the support from political parties and community organisations, such as the Gaelic Athletic Association, for the new Police Service of Northern Ireland recruitment campaign? Will he encourage young nationalists to join the police and pursue a noble career and profession? Will he also join me in commending the work of PSNI officers, the Garda Síochána and, indeed, police throughout the whole of these islands?

It was such a positive event yesterday, when we saw the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister attending that recruitment drive. I encourage all young women and men in Northern Ireland who are interested in the police service to join, whatever their background.