HC Deb 10 April 1984 vol 58 cc182-3
4. Dr. Mawhinney

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many service men have died in Northern Ireland each year since 1979 and in total since 1968.

Mr. Stanley

The numbers of service men killed in Northern Ireland as a result of terrorist action is as follows: 1979, 48; 1980, 17; 1981, 23; 1982, 28; 1983, 15; 1984, six to date. The total killed since 1968 is 514.

Dr. Mawhinney

I know that my hon. Friend will agree that those are tragic figures. Bearing in mind the recently expressed concern of our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland about cross-border security, will my hon. Friend or my right hon. Friend have discussions with their counterparts in Dublin to try to initiate direct Army-to-Army communications across the border with a view to reducing the risk to our security forces on the border and the need for incursions across the border?

Mr. Stanley

I agree with my hon. Friend about the tragic nature of the figures that I have given to the House.

Cross-border security is dealt with by the civil authorities. The Army has no involvement in any cross-border operations. That remains the position.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

Will the Minister be careful to take no notice whatsoever of what was said by his hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Dr. Mawhinney)?

Mr. Stanley

I note what the right hon. Gentleman says, but I am not necessarily inclined to agree with him.

Sir John Biggs-Davison

Does my hon. Friend include in those figures the sacrifice made by the Ulster Defence Regiment? Will he pay a tribute to its part-time members, who live under special risk?

Mr. Stanley

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The 514 service men killed since 1968 are made up of 373 regular service men and 141 members of the UDR, of which a significant 117 were killed off duty. I definitely join him in expressing my tribute, and that of the whole House, to the bravery of the members of the UDR.

Mr. McNamara

The whole House will regret the deaths of British service men in Northern Ireland, but has the Minister or his Department any reason to complain of lack of co-operation from the Irish Army or the Garda Siochana? Can he state categorically that no covert operations by any British forces under the control of his Department are taking place within the Republic of Ireland?

Mr. Stanley

I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance sought in the second part of his question. Our view is that the wider co-operation, to which he referred, is satisfactory.