HC Deb 01 July 1976 vol 914 cc633-5
6. Mr. Farr

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what consultations he has had with the Government of the Republic of Ireland on a scheme to establish the mutual secondment of RUC and Garda officers to assist in the apprehension of fugitives in border areas.

Mr. Moyle

This is in the first place a matter for the Chief Constable and the Chief Commissioner of the Garda.

Mr. Farr

I cannot thank the hon. Gentleman for that Answer, which was negative in the extreme. This is the sort of initiative that the Government should be considering. If attempts were made to establish consultation on these lines, possibly a real impact could be made on cross-border security and co-operation between the security forces. It is not good enough for the Minister to answer in such a negative manner. I ask him to look at the matter again.

Mr. Moyle

I should have no objection in principle to this taking place, provided that it was acceptable to the two police forces and provided that the practical problems could be solved. The operation of the police force on the other side of the border, for example, would be limited to some extent, because the difference in the law between the Republic and Northern Ireland is sufficiently wide to render an easy transfer not a simple matter.

Mr. Beith

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that even if he cannot achieve what would be a welcome initiative of this sort, there is much scope for the sort of cooperation that would enable the best use to be made of manpower on the border so that the maximum number of crossing points can be policed? Does he agree that rather than having security forces on both sides of the border, policing, for example, a single crossing point, each force on its own side, it would be desirable if the forces could be deployed through cooperation at a number of different points? In that way a lot could be achieved.

Mr. Moyle

Broadly speaking, that sort of thing is already done. Co-operation between the two forces is growing all the time.

Mr. Molyneaux

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that we welcome and have supported what he has said about increased co-operation between the two forces? However, when talking about secondment between forces of two sovereign States, clearly that cannot be done. It could be done between Northern Ireland and the Metropolitan Police, but that is not a parallel.

Mr. Moyle

I note what the hon. Gentleman said. I pointed out that the RUC will make a substantial attempt to achieve the sort of liaison and exchange that we are talking about, but I am sure there are a number of practical problems that will have to be solved before it can be put into practice.

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