HC Deb 14 May 1981 vol 4 c878
15. Mr. Flannery

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what representations he has received from the Government of the Republic of Ireland about the future constitutional arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Mr. Humphrey Atkins

I have nothing to add to the reply that my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Brown) on 1 April.

Mr. Flannery

Will the Minister accept that recent events in Northern Ireland have created a new situation and that many people hope that the love-in on Northern Ireland between the two Front Benches will gradually be broken? Is he aware of the massive initiative in the Labour Party for it to be stated that we profoundly believe that a united Ireland is the only ultimate solution? Will he accept that the British people are sick to death because neither party has a proper policy on Northern Ireland? They want to see a new initiative from the Labour Party to solve the terrible and intractable problems.

Mr. Atkins

That is all fascinating stuff but does not have much to do with the hon. Gentleman's main question. I am interested in his views and no doubt we shall be hearing more of them. We are discussing a variety of matters with the Government of the Republic, but, as has been made clear on many occasions, not the future governmental arrangements of Northern Ireland.

Mr. Molyneaux

As Mr. Haughey has recently proved to be anything but a good neighbour, will the Secretary of State dissolve the joint study groups and expose the fallacy of the special relationship?

Mr. Atkins

No, Sir.

Mr. Michael Brown

While we recognise that Northern Ireland's future constitutional arrangements are not being discussed with the Government of the Republic of Ireland, may I ask what, specifically, is being discussed.

Mr. Atkins

The Prime Minister has answered questions on the matter on a number of occasions. She has spelt out the range of subjects under discussion between officials, with a view to suggesting to the two Governments what further can be done. That is as far as I am able to go.

Mr. Ron Brown

As the Minister is interested in the Labour Party and its position on a united Ireland, will he accept that many of us believe not only in a united Ireland but in a united Socialist Ireland—an Ireland that will challenge the green Tories in the South and the orange Tories in the North? Will he further accept that this is not a new concept, but was argued by Jim Larkin and James Connolly many years ago? It is still valid today. Is he aware that Irish workers will still back the concept, given the lead that I hope the Labour Party will give, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) said?

Mr. Atkins

Again, that is fascinating stuff, but the hon. Gentleman's hopes about the future of the Labour Party have nothing to do with me.