HC Deb 26 October 1971 vol 823 cc1471-3
Q3. Mr. McNamara

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his talks on 21st October with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the Question he put to me on 21st October. —[Vol. 823, c. 187–8.]

Mr. McNamara

I thought that might be the right hon. Gentleman's reply. Has he received any communication from the Irish Government following weekend reports that the Government of the Republic will not take part in any future talks unless they are conditional, and not unconditional as in the past? When does the right hon. Gentleman intend to end the foolish policy of internment and of seeking a military solution, and turn his attention more to achieving an acceptable political solution which will isolate the gunmen and extremists on all sides?

The Prime Minister

I have received no such communication from the Government of Eire and I very much hope that this would not be the view of the Government or Prime Minister of Eire. It was not their view on the previous occasion, when we were able to have valuable and useful talks which both of us agreed were of help because there were no preconditions on either side. I hope that that position will continue.

The answer to the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is that the Government of Northern Ireland are this afternoon publishing their own proposals for further political reform in Northern Ireland. These will be added to the views which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has already received, and I hope that the other political parties which have not yet put forward their views will now do so.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

When my right hon. Friend next speaks to Mr. Lynch will he talk somewhat insistently about the absurd and horrifying lengths to which the refusal to grant extradition of men involved in activities against the security forces in Northern Ireland is now carried by the Republic authorities?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend will be aware, this is a matter for the courts. There was one recent incident in which extradition was sought but refused by the court. One must accept the judicial position in Eire.

Mr. Leadbitter

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that while all hon. Members on this side and, to my knowledge, many hon. Gentlemen opposite, condemn violence in Ireland from whatever quarter it may come, there is now every reason to re-examine the policy of internment, to change the nature of that policy and also avoid criticism from outside our shores?

While on this subject, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that no Government statement is required about Senator Kennedy's remarks, as this House and the country condemn his irresponsible and unwise statements? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that when Senator Kennedy refers to the conscience of this country it is time that he examined his own.

The Prime Minister

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. It is regrettable that the Senator should have given vent to such an ignorant outburst.

The answer to the hon. Gentleman's question about internment is that we debated that in the two-day debate on Northern Ireland, and I have nothing to add to what was said then.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that while Her Majesty's Government intend to win the battle against the I.R.A. they will also use their influence to assist the minority in Northern Ireland with the actual Government there?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has given a plain undertaking that we want to work for a position in which there is a permanent and guaranteed place for the minority as well as the majority of the community in Northern Ireland. We are asking that all those concerned should be prepared to enter into talks, without conditions, towards that end.

Mr. Thorpe

The right hon. Gentleman remarked that the Government of the Republic would be publishing their proposals today—[Hon. Members: "No."] I should have said the Government of Northern Ireland. He also referred to talks which the Home Secretary is having. May we be told when this Westminster Government intend to put forward their proposals, arising out of the talks that are now taking place with the Home Secretary, giving details of how they propose to achieve a political settlement in Northern Ireland?

The Prime Minister

The Home Secretary thought it right that those whom he invited to have talks with him should have the first opportunity to put forward their proposals. He undertook to give the fullest consideration to them and said that thereafter he would be prepared to put forward proposals, all of which could be discussed together. The first stage must be that those concerned with the machinery of Government, political activities and other matters in Northern Ireland should put forward their ideas as to how a solution might be reached.

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