HC Deb 04 May 1972 vol 836 cc574-5
14. Mr. Biffen

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he was aware of the intention of Mr. Cathal Goulding, a member of the Irish Republican Army, to attend the funeral of Mr. McCann on 18th April; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Whitelaw

No, Sir.

Mr. Biffen

A great many other people seem to have known about it. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the morale of loyalist and law-abiding citizens is bound to be prejudiced by the apparent ease with which Mr. Cathal Goulding can execute his well-publicised intentions? Does my right hon. Friend have any proposals for the more effective control of the movement of personnel across the Border with Eire?

Mr. Whitelaw

My hon. Friend seems confident that many people knew about it. Perhaps they knew about it after the event, but that is not the right time to know about it. As for the future, I have to deal with the security situation on the ground in consultation with all those concerned. It would be prejudicial to the purpose that we all have in mind if I were to discuss the details of this in public.

Rev. Ian Paisley

Is the Minister aware that the same terrorist leader was back in Londonderry last Sunday and attended a meeting that was actually advertised by posters and handbills in the so-called no-go areas of Londonderry? Does he agree that the fact that the security net can be so easily breached is bound to lead to a breakdown in the morale of the loyalist people?

Mr. Whitelaw

I regret any breaches of what the hon. Member describes as the security net, but I am bound to say that this is nothing new in Irish politics over many centuries.

19. Mr. Hastings

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what means he has for informing himself about the visits of Irish Republican Army leaders from the Republic to public funerals and other functions in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. David Howell

It is not in the interest of security to give my hon. Friend the information he seeks.

Mr. Hastings

Is not the apprehension of these IRA leaders as important as any other single objective from every point of view, including the saving of human life? Can my hon. Friend confirm that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) said, Goulding has been back again since the funeral of McCann on a well-publicised and apparently well-advertised visit? Is my hon. Friend satisfied that the flow of information which he is receiving on the movements of these people is anywhere near as good as it should be at this stage in the emergency?

Mr. Howell

I recognise my hon. Friend's strong feelings about the movements of these terrorist leaders, but it would not be in the public interest to disclose either the intelligence sources or the security force plans relating to these questions.

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