HC Deb 10 May 1990 vol 172 cc387-8
9. Mr. Canavan

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the Government of the Republic of Ireland.

Mr. Brooke

I last met Ministers from the Republic of Ireland on 20 April, following the Intergovernmental Conference. The subjects discussed then included the political situation in Northern Ireland, cross-border security co-operation, arrangements for dealing with fugitive offenders, the question of confidence in the security forces and the system of justice and cross-border economic co-operation.

Mr. Canavan

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept the valid and constructive criticism of the Anglo-Irish Agreement that it has failed in its declared objective of bringing peace precisely because it contains no coherent strategy for the peaceful reunification of Ireland? Will he assure us that meaningful dialogue towards that end will continue between the British Government and the Government of the Irish Republic, whatever the outcome of his forthcoming discussions with Unionist leaders—including the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), who is not exactly renowned for his contribution to the peace movement?

Mr. Brooke

I pay tribute to the security co-operation between this Government and the Government of the Irish Republic in matter pertaining to cross-border activities. The hon. Gentleman's view of the purpose of the Anglo-Irish Agreement—at least in the gloss that he placed upon it—is novel, and not one which I share with him.

Mr. Latham

Is my right hon. Friend aware that most people on this side of the St. George's channel—and, I suspect, many on the other side—welcome the recent visit to Belfast by Prime Minister Haughey to talk to business men there and regard that sort of contact as extremely sensible and fruitful?

Mr. Brooke

My hon. Friend is correct in his description of the visit of Mr. Haughey, though he came as President of the European Community to a conference which was devoted to European economic matters. The widespread view of those who took part in that conference was that his visit was worth while.

Mr. McNamara

What progress has been made on the joint Anglo-Irish application for the cross-border element of the European structural fund, and when can we expect a statement about that?

Mr. Brooke

We are still engaged in discussions, but progress on the outline basis has been made.

Mr. Mallon

Is not it time that the Secretary of State told the House exactly what discussions have taken place with the Government of the Republic of Ireland about cross-border co-operation in relation to the terms of EC directives? May we be assured that this time we shall not lose by default through failure to have proper discussions about those matters?

Mr. Brooke

I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman is referring to structural funds or to Community regulations against which the Republic of Ireland was held to have offended and was taken to the European court. We have not yet had the conclusion of that matter. We shall wait to see the response of the Government of the Republic, but we have pressed on them that we expect them to adhere to the judgment when it emerges.

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