HC Deb 03 July 1986 vol 100 cc1160-1
11. Mr. Dubs

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he will next meet the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary to discuss security in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Tom King

While it is not my practice to give details of timing or content, I can confirm that I do have regular meetings both with the Chief Constable and the General Officer Commanding on security matters.

Mr. Dubs

At the forthcoming meeting with the police in Northern Ireland, will the Secretary of State discuss the problems caused by so-called Loyalist marches, which deliberately and provocatively seek to go through Nationalist areas? Will he comment on the implication of those marches in the forthcoming months?

Mr. King

The hon. Gentleman will know that marches are taking place at this very moment. Marches called the "mini-12th" took place on Tuesday. The vast majority of those marches passed off peacefully. There are further marches, such as one on Sunday in Portadown, and others. Those are matters for the Chief Constable. Obviously they are matters to which he gives careful consideration. In that regard, I am absolutely satisfied that he will seek to exercise his responsibilities, as he has over the years, in the interests of law and order.

Mr. Gow

Does my right hon. Friend think that it is wise to continue to arrange for the Chief Constable of the RUC to be present at meetings of the Intergovernmental Conference at ministerial level? Is it not possible to secure that excellent co-operation that we all seek between the Garda and the RUC without the attendance of the Chief Constable of the RUC at meetings of the conference?

Mr. King

I think that my hon. Friend is aware that the Chief Constable has a particular interest in closer cooperation on cross-border security. I do not think that it is any secret that the RUC sees, in the structure that we have now established, of conference and discussion on cross-border security, the best opportunity yet for tackling the problem of terrorism, so much of which is closely border-related. The Chief Constable is very keen to play his part, and does not want not to play any part in that important co-operation.

Forward to