HC Deb 27 July 1972 vol 841 cc2054-6
Q5. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Prime Minister whether he will take an early opportunity of discussing with the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic the security of the British Isles.

The Prime Minister

I continue to be in close touch with the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic on all matters concerning our two countries, but there are no plans for us to meet before the Conference of Heads of Government of the enlarged Community in October.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Has my right hon. Friend noted the speech of Mr. Lynch in the course of which he said that Dublin would not allow private armies to use the territory of the Republic to impose their will on the people of Northern Ireland? Is not that recognition of a vital common interest between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic and of the need for a common strategy?

The Prime Minister

The Prime Minister of the Republic has said this on many occasions in the past. He has certainly said it in talks with me on different occasions. We are completely in agreement about this matter.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

Is the Prime Minister aware that many of the arms that get into the North of Ireland could not possibly originate in the South? Is he taking steps to have discussions with other Governments, and perhaps that of the United States, to make sure that they control things so that the weapons that kill do not get into the hands of the people who kill in the first instance?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. We have had discussions with a number of Governments, both in Europe and elsewhere, on the problem of arms supplies coming from their sources. I believe that almost all of them are genuinely doing everything they possibly can to track down supplies and to the best of their ability they keep us informed. However, no one should underestimate the difficulty of ensuring that nothing gets through.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that Mr. Lynch is doing everything possible to deal with the Provisional IRA?

The Prime Minister

Mr. Lynch and his Government have introduced stricter legislation to deal with illegal activities. These are handled, as in this country, through the courts themselves, and Mr. Lynch and his Government have no control over their courts. This is a matter for the Government of the Republic, and it is for them to decide how best they can handle the Provisionals and the threat in their country.

Mr. Orme

Is the Prime Minister aware that all the political parties in the Republic are showing great courage in standing up to the Provisional IRA? In an effort to improve relations between the United Kingdom and the Republic, will the Prime Minister consider sending a senior Minister to visit Dublin in the near future so that issues of mutual interest can be discussed between the two Governments?

The Prime Minister

In his speech the Prime Minister of the Republic particularly emphasised that relations between his Government and this Government and between the two countries were very good. Only at the end of last week we had a visit by Dr. Hillery to London during which he had full discussions with my right hon. Friends. If it were to become necessary for a Minister from this side to have discussions with the Government in Dublin, no doubt that could be arranged; but I do not think that either Government feel the need to supplement anything that is already going on all the time. We are in very close contact. I was glad the Prime Minister of the Republic emphasised that in his speech.