HC Deb 18 February 1976 vol 905 cc1268-70
7. Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the United States Government concerning the raising within the United States of funds used partly for the provision of weapons for the Irish Republican Army.

Mr. James Callaghan

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) on 10th February.—[Vol 905, c. 115–16.]

Mr. Jessel

As 85 per cent. of the weapons found in the possession of the IRA are of United States origin, will the Government step up their activities to make the facts of the situation in Northern Ireland known to the leaders of the Irish-American community in the United States and ask our American allies how they would feel if fund-raising took place in Europe to raise money to buy weapons to kill Americans in America?

Mr. Callaghan

My information coincides with that of the hon. Member. About 85 per cent. of the weapons used by the Provisional IRA and recovered by security forces are manufactured in the United States. The hon. Member makes a good point in his last remarks. I understand that the principal fund-raising organisation in the United States is sometimes called NORAID. It is believed to be sending funds at the rate of about £100,000 a year. I do not think that that money goes to welfare or to helping the sick. We take every opportunity to make these facts known to American senators and congressmen as well as to the Administration.

Mr. Lee

If the Americans persist in giving assistance to the IRA in this way, have we not a very good answer? Could we not bundle American bases out of this country and tell them to keep out?

Mr. Callaghan

That would be an answer. It is the answer I would expect from my hon. Friend, but it is not one which the majority of the House would want to adopt.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we appreciate the efforts which both British and Irish Ministers have made, and are making, to end this infamous traffic? Is he also aware that the inclination of some of us enthusiastically to celebrate the bicentenary of the American Republic will be lessened if American citizens continue to be the paymasters and suppliers of the IRA?

Mr. Callaghan

I am grateful for what the hon. Member said at the beginning of his question. I have no reason to believe that any responsible opinion in the United States supports what is happening in this matter. It is up to all of us to redouble our efforts.

Mr. Dalyell

Although it is a lesser part of the problem, has my right hon. Friend been in touch with the Canadians on this matter?

Mr. Callaghan

The source of funds there is very much smaller.

Sir Nigel Fisher

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that many Americans of Irish descent give money to NORAID imagining that it will be spent for peaceful and compassionate purposes when in fact it goes straight to the gunmen? Will he invite Mr. Cosgrave, who, I understand, is to visit the United States in the near future, to reinforce his representations, as they may carry even more weight coming from the Republic?

Mr. Callaghan

I take note of what the hon. Member has said. I know that Ministers from the Republic have been very outspoken in their condemnation of these funds when they have visited the United States.