HC Deb 11 May 1978 vol 949 cc1377-9
3. Mr. Molyneaux

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he is satisfied with measures designed to counter co-operation between the Provisional IRA and international terrorist organisations.

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

Yes, Sir. We are alert to any such contacts, but there is no evidence of a significant international link.

Mr. Molyneaux

Will Her Majesty's Government consider approaching the Italian Government to persuade the Government of the Irish Republic to align themselves with civilised States by signing the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, and perhaps also seek to convince Dublin that international terrorism knows no frontiers?

Mr. Mason

I think that the Government of the Republic recognise that terrorism has no frontiers and that they are fully acquainted now with Her Majesty's views on the need to enact the Convention.

Mr. Bradford

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the IRA has consulted terrorist organisations on the Continent? Will he not be content merely to condemn such actions but apprehend those who have participated in those conferences when they seek to return to the Province?

Mr. Mason

The appalling record of the Provisional IRA within the Province and its lack of political support do not enable it to establish any significant international links. Although some organisations have made their way to Northern Ireland—to the anti-repression conference, for example—in the course of this year, nothing of any significance came out of it.

Mr. Marten

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that it is very worrying when he says that there is no evidence to show an international connection? Did he see a television film on training in Beirut, when a member of the party being trained said that he had come from the IRA?

Mr. Mason

I hope that the House will remember the words that I used. I said there were "no significant international links". Although contacts may be made, they are not of any significance. Although in the past there may have been a contact with Palestinians, there is no real link with the Palestinian terrorists.

Mr. Fitt

Whilst recognising and deploring almost every action of the IRA—[HON. MEMBERS: "Almost?"]—every action of the IRA, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he agrees that there was an IRA in Ireland before there were terrorists in Italy, Germany and elsewhere, and that the existence of these organisations in those countries has nothing to do with the birth or continuation of the IRA?

Mr. Mason

I think that my hon. Friend makes a valid point when he points out the years during which the IRA has been in existence compared with the Red Army Faction or the Baader-Meinhof gang. Secondly, it is not the IRA to which we apportion much of the blame for the troubles in Northern Ireland; it is the Provisional IRA, which continues this type of guerrilla warfare when the IRA itself ceased firing some time ago.

Mr. Speaker

Before I call the next Question, may I point out that the Secretary of State made an inadvertent slip when he said, in reply to the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. Molyneaux) "Her Majesty's views"? I know that he meant "Her Majesty's Government's views." I say that just for the record.

Mr. Mason

I hope that Her Majesty does not mind.