§ 15. Mr. John Ellis
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the work of the Community Relations Branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
§ Mr. Dunn
I know from the Chief Constable that the branch is engaged in a wide and varied programme of activity designed to advance understanding between the police and the public and to promote reconciliation in the community. The weekend sessions attended by people from both sides of the community have established a most useful dialogue, and I draw particular encouragement from the branch's work in organising youth clubs and other productive pursuits. For young people the branch makes a very valuable contribution to the establishment of trust and understanding across the sectarian divide. I take this opportunity to acknowledge the dedication of the Community Relations Branch officers and to express my appreciation to them.
I appreciate the Minister's optimistic reply, but will he encourage all parties in Northern Ireland to support the RUC and recruitment to it?
§ Mr. McCusker
Does not the Minister agree that, at a time when police man- 1650 power is at a premium, this work could be passed on to someone else to undertake and the police released to get on with defeating terrorism?
§ Mr. Dunn
There are two points of view on this matter. I believe that, for the time being, the police are the best people to undertake this work. What we are trying to do is create a relationship between the police and the community. I hope that at a later stage further developments will be possible.
§ Mr. Kilfedder
The Minister and his colleagues frequently refer to "the two parts of Northern Ireland". Will he make it clear that the only division in Northern Ireland among the people is between those who are terrorists and those who are law-abiding?
§ Mr. Speaker
Will the hon. Gentleman be kind enough to wait until the end of Prime Minister's Question Time?