HC Deb 11 July 1985 vol 82 cc1251-2
7. Mr. Parry

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on cross-border cooperation between the Province and the Irish Republic.

Mr. Hurd

The two Governments are on good terms and seek to co-operate closely on matters where their interests coincide. Cross-border co-operation on security is particularly valuable. There is certainly scope for improvement, and such improvement must be one of our main aims.

Mr. Parry

Will the Secretary of State accept that the recent re-routing of Protestant marches in Catholic areas will be a setback to British-Irish relations in Northern Ireland? Will he also accept that such action is the best recruiting sergeant for the Provisional IRA and Noraid in America? In future, will he consider banning such provocative marches, rather than backing down to the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley)—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The question is concerned with cross-border co-operation.

Mr. Stanbrook

If we can persuade the Government of the United States to deprive terrorists of immunity from extradition, why cannot we similarly persuade the Government of the Irish Republic?

Mr. Hurd

The courts of the Irish Republic have shown in the McGlinchy case and the Shannon case a greater awareness than in the past of the argument that my hon. Friend is advancing. We would like to move further in that direction.

Mr. McCusker

Does the Secretary of State recall the controversy that arose a few weeks ago when the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary alleged that explosives used in the bomb that killed four police personnel at Kileen originated in the Irish Republic? Has co-operation between the police forces of the two parts of Northern Ireland established whether that explosive originated in the Irish Republic? Did the large amount of explosives found in Newry a few days ago also originate from the Republic?

Mr. Hurd

The investigation into the Kileen bombing is continuing. The hon. Gentleman has put his finger on one of the main areas of cross-border co-operation, as I see it. The Provisional IRA has large quantities of home-made explosives available to it. Some of the material is converted into explosives in the North and much of it is converted in the South. This is an area where co-operation and concerted action essential.

Dr. Mawhinney

Does my right hon. Friend accept that cross-border security is causing a great deal of confusion? We are told that co-operation is valuable and close, but we are also told that the heads of the two police forces will not talk to each other and that Dublin politicians reject any suggestion that Northern Ireland terrorists are enjoying refuge in the Republic-. Can my right hon. Friend help to throw some light on this confusion?

Mr. Hurd

I do not know whether there is a great deal of confusion. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I have often said, the experience is a mixed one. Security co-operation between the two countries is valuable and it should be improved. One form of improvement would be for meetings to take place between the RUC and the Garda at the most senior level as a matter of course.

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