HC Deb 12 December 1985 vol 88 cc1052-3
3. Mr. John Mark Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the security situation in Northern Ireland.

19. Mr. Andrew MacKay

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a further statement about the security situation in the Province.

Mr. Tom King

Since I last answered questions in the House on 14 November two civilians and five members of the security forces have died as a result of the security situation in the Province. I am sure the whole House will join me in condemning these murders. Although they continue to bear the brunt of terrorist attacks, the security forces carry out their duties with great courage and dedication. As a result of their efforts, since the beginning of the year a total of 495 people have been charged with serious offences, including 24 with murder, and 216 weapons, 12,826 rounds of ammunition and 7,706 1b of explosives have been recovered.

Mr. Taylor

Will my right hon. Friend say whether he considers that co-operation on security matters may come to include advance information from the South and advance intelligence that may help us to head off tragic attacks like last night's attack?

Mr. King

Before the conference met, I believed that there was scope for benefits to come from enhanced security co-operation. We had a detailed discussion yesterday and I am now more than ever persuaded that there can be real benefits. It simply cannot make sense, with the problems posed by the border, that we should not have the closest possible co-operation when terrorism presents a very serious threat north and south of the border.

Mr. Andrew MacKay

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the people who are most violently opposed to the Anglo-Irish Agreement are the members of the IRA? This has been clearly illustrated by the terrorist attacks in the past few weeks in the Province. How does my right hon. Friend expect greater co-operation with the Irish Government to improve security?

Mr. King

The figures that I have cited on the outrages, including the more recent incidents, the scale of success in recovering weapons and ammunition and the people charged show the size of the challenge that we still face. I would rather not go into detail about how I see particular approaches developing this co-operation. The statement contained a welcome announcement of the increased resources that the Garda will deploy on the border.

Miss Maynard

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that all the evidence shows that there is no solution to this security problem? Does he agree that the real cause of the problem is the British presence in Northern Ireland and that there will never be peace while that presence exists? Does he agree that there must be a declaration that Britain intends to withdraw from Northern Ireland and to stop treating Ireland as a colony? Only a united Ireland will bring peace. Why do the Irish people not have the same right to self-determination as people in this or any other country?

Mr. King

The hon. Lady holds her own particularly individual views on this matter. I could not disagree with her more. Her views are not shared by the Irish Government, either. They have recognised in the agreement that it is inconceivable that there should be a united Ireland without the consent of the majority in Northern Ireland. That is an absolutely accurate perception.

Mr. Winnick

Should it not be clearly seen that the terrorism in Northern Ireland over the years is completely condemned by hon. Members? All our sympathy goes out to the relatives of those who have been murdered, whether by the IRA or by the terrorists on the other side of the sectarian divide. Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that many of us believe that the Anglo-Irish Agreement is a limited step forward in the right direction? Will the Government pledge that, whatever the position in the 1986 by-elections, they will stick to the Anglo-Irish Agreement and that they will not back down or allow themselves to be blackmailed?

Mr. King

The agreement was reached between Governments. It has now been approved by both Houses of Parliament. Obviously we must respect that position.

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