HC Deb 14 April 1983 vol 40 cc925-6
5. Mr. Latham

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what further initiatives he has in mind for ministerial visits or other publicity to persuade United States citizens not to give money to organisations such as NORAID which help to finance terrorist groups.

Mr. Prior

We shall continue to look for ways of improving our existing information effort on Northern Ireland issues in the United States of America. My ministerial colleagues and I will continue to make periodic visits to the United States of America in support of our information staff, as and when it is appropriate for us to do so.

Mr. Latham

Following the disgraceful scene last month, when a notorious financier of the IRA led a parade on Fifth Avenue in honour of a Christian saint, will my right hon Friend confirm that people in this country are as annoyed about that organisation financing the IRA as Americans would be if British people collected money for Black Panthers, Weathermen, the Symbionese Liberation Army or other crackpot organisations?

Mr. Prior

That is a fair assessment of the annoyance that we feel about the activities of Noraid and the St. Patrick's Day parade with Mr. Flannery as the Grand Marshal. I believe that it brought home to the American public, in a precise manner, just exactly what Mr. Flannery and Noraid are about.

Mr. McCusker

Quite apart from the money contributed to Noraid, did the Secretary of State note the decision of represenatives of the state of Massachusetts—a supposedly intelligent and responsible group of people—to deny state funds for investment in companies that were purported to be supplying arms for repression in Northern Ireland? What effort was made by the right hon. Gentleman to inform the elected representatives of the state of Massachusetts that the opinions on which they based their decision were wholly wrong?

Mr. Prior

I noticed the considerable effort that was made in that context. The legislation is impractical, but it shows some of the difficulties and some of the myths and misconceptions in the minds of a number of American people.

Sir Philip Goodhart

We must all hope that the appropriate American authorities will increase their pressure on the supporters of Irish terrorism, but will my right hon. Friend remember that Irish terrorists almost certainly still get more financial support from London and Glasgow than from New York and Boston?

Mr. Prior

I have no evidence to support that, although I know that my hon. Friend has knowledge of these matters. All I can say is that far too much is gained by the IRA and other organisations of this nature by raiding post offices and banks and by committing other criminal acts.