HC Deb 04 April 1974 vol 871 cc1430-1
7. Mr. Luce

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to meet Ministers in the Southern Irish Government in the near future.

8. Mr. O'Halloran

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to meet the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

I have already had valuable discussions with the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs on 7th March, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I will be meeting the Irish Prime Minister tomorrow.

Mr. Luce

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that in these discussions, which I hope will take place regularly, the question of overriding mutual interest is the need to preserve law and order between our two countries? What further progress does the right hon. Gentleman hope for in joint law enforcement and security measures?

Mr. Rees

These are important aspects which must be discussed. On the legal side the report of the Law Enforcement Commission is to come shortly. I am well aware that one of the great security problems is the border. Difficult as the border is, because of its length, and so forth, we should aim at closer co-operation to deal with the matter. However, that is not the only route which arms take into Northern Ireland. It is very difficult, even in this society, to deal with the problem. I am, of course, well aware of the problem of border security, and this will have to be discussed.

Mr. Deedes

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that at least one consequence of Sunningdale has been the greatly increased responsibilities and obligations of the Government of the Republic? Would it not be a good thing for that to be brought home by Ministers from time to time?

Mr. Rees

The two Governments and the Executive are aware of what has to flow from the Sunningdale agreement. The right hon. Gentleman has raised a most important point.

Mr. Marten

On the question of the border, will the righ hon. Gentleman look at the history of the resistance movements in the last war and study it deeply, bearing in mind the possibility of a joint and absolute closure of the border by Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland. In that way the security forces really could get to grips with the resistance movement—if we wish to call it that—in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Rees

I asked for a security review soon after taking office. I am sure that my advisers will report on that aspect. I would not pretend to set myself up as an expert in security and I am very much inclined to accept the advice of my security advisers. I know that they will consider the hon. Member's point and I prefer not to comment upon it until that has been done.

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