HC Deb 27 May 1976 vol 912 cc624-5
17. Mr. McCusker

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will consider the establishment of a specialist full-time anti-terrorist unit recruited principally from the ranks of the UDR and RUC.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

The security forces, including the UDR and RUC, are already fully engaged in combating terrorism.

Mr. McCusker

I acknowledge the success of the RUC, but is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are certain areas where that success has been limited? If he were to implement my suggestion, would it not divest the RUC of the paramilitary rôle that neither of us wishes it to have?

Mr. Rees

In rural areas, there is a problem. Terrorism shows itself in different ways. I believe that the Chief Constable and the GOC who directs military operations are adopting the right approach. They will ensure that the RUC does not become a para-military force.

Mr. Neave

We are glad to hear that the Chief Constable is looking at this matter. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the anti-terrorist unit that we envisage would be useful as a mobile force in the border zone?

Mr. Rees

The RUC has a mobile force in the border zone at the moment. It becomes highly dependent on the Army the nearer it gets to the border. The UDR is a part-time force. I visited it in the border area recently. Changes can be made, but they are matters for the director of military operations.