HC Deb 12 January 1978 vol 941 cc1831-2
1. Mr. Molyneaux

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he is satisfied with the degree of co-operation between specialised Army units and the Special Branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

16. Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he is satisfied with the co-operation between all branches of the security forces in Northern Ireland; and whether he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Roy Mason)

Yes, Sir. Cooperation between all branches of the security forces has been, and continues to be, entirely satisfactory at all levels. It fully reflects the policy initiated in 1976, under which the Royal Ulster Constabulary has assumed the leading rôle in countering terrorist activities.

Mr. Molyneaux

Does the Secretary of State agree that there is now an even greater need to increase the effectiveness of the security forces, in view of the irresponsible encouragement given to terrorists by the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic last weekend?

Mr. Mason

Irrespective of what Mr. Lynch may or may not have said about this matter, the partnership between the Army and the RUC is well forged and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, the RUC is taking the lead in most of the antiterrorist activities within the Province.

Mr. Neave

I welcome what the right hon. Gentleman said about co-operation with the Republic, but was not it a very grave breach of diplomatic practice for Mr. Lynch to make these statements without consultation with Her Majesty's Government? Further, was not it most undesirable for him to talk of an amnesty, when he has no responsibility for the position in Northern Ireland and in the circumstances? Therefore, will the right hon. Gentleman invite the Prime Minister to ask Mr. Lynch to set at rest the very serious doubts he has now raised about his own attitude to the Provisional IRA?

Mr. Mason

At the time of Mr. Lynch's initial statement, the hon. Gentleman, on behalf of his own party, and I, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, made our views quite clear. Secondly, I am pleased to say that in Mr. Lynch's second statement he removed most of the ambiguity about amnesty, and I think that there is no need, therefore, to make further representations on that matter.

Mr. Fitt

Does my right hon. Friend accept that a lot of artificial hysteria was created in Northern Ireland about the remarks of the Taoiseach, who was restating well-known Fianna Fail policy as it had existed since the foundation of that party? Will he take it from me, if it is necessary to do so, that Mr. Lynch does not in any way give credence or support to the IRA as it is known in Ireland today?

Mr. Mason

It is also encouraging that in his second statement Mr. Lynch was robust in his desire to deal with subversives and terrorists in the Republic. But the total reiteration of Fianna Fail policy at this time certainly caused many reverberations in the Republic—

Mr. Fitt

Nothing new.

Mr. Mason

—in the Province, and in Great Britain.