HC Deb 25 February 1982 vol 18 cc971-2
4. Mr. Alton

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he is satisfied with the progress being made by the United States in halting the illegal supply of arms to the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland.

The Under-Secretary of State for Noethern Ireland(Mr.John Patten)

Arms smuggled from the United States have been used frequently in terrorist attacks, including murders of members of the security forces and civilians. The United States Government are well aware of that and continue to take energetic measures to prevent such traffic. I hope that recent publicity will have brought the same point home to those who make financial contributions to terrorists' front organisations.

Mr. Alton

Has the Minister yet had a chance to consider the revelations made in the Granada Television "World in Action" programme screened last Monday? Will he take this opportunity to urge people in the Irish Catholic community in the United States to desist from giving funds to Noraid on the basis that much of this money is used for illegal arms smuggling and that these arms, in turn, are being used for the murder of innocent people in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Patten

Yes. I am aware of the programme. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is aware that the New York district court has ruled that the so-called Noraid organisation is linked directly to the Provisional IRA and should be registered as such. I should like to take this opportunity to appeal from the Government Dispatch Box to everyone in the United States who is ever tempted to give financial or other aid to this organisation to realise what they are doing and to reflect perhaps on the distress that has been caused to the victims of those who have used guns purchased with that money? They should recognise that Noraid might be better called "terror aid" or "murder aid".

Mr. Robert Atkins

Does my hon. Friend think it ironic that it is possible for the United States to supply this country with Trident but will not allow the sale of small arms and hand guns to be used by the RUC to combat the terrorism to which he refers?

Mr. Patten

I see the logic of my hon. Friend's question. The Government have made it clear to the Government of the United States that they utterly deplore the decision to suspend the licence to export weapons to the RUC. We would expect our allies and our friends to make available to us weapons for personal protection. I must also stress to the House, however, that the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland is perfectly satisfied with the equipment that his men carry at the moment.