HC Deb 16 June 1994 vol 244 cc744-5
6. Mr. Enright

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what security matters were discussed when he last met Ministers of the Irish Republic; and if he will make a statement.

Sir Patrick Mayhew

Such discussions at our meetings take place in confidence, but security co-operation remains a matter of high importance for both Governments.

Mr. Enright

Has the abject failure of the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) in the recent elections —in spite of his vitriolic attacks on the Anglo-Irish declaration he gained less than one third of the votes—strengthened democratically the British Government's position vis-a-vis the Irish Government?

Sir Patrick Mayhew

I do not think that the British Government's position can be viewed as one of antagonism towards the Irish Government, although a firm stance is being taken in the current important discussions. Our position is clear: it is based on the principle of democracy. The future of Northern Ireland must be determined only by democratic means. That also happens to be the position of the Irish Government, as is made clear in the joint declaration.

Mr. Forman

In discussing security matters with his counterpart in the Irish Republic, has my right hon. and learned Friend had any cause for optimism about the role that the United States Administration could play in assisting the search for peace and security in Northern Ireland?

Sir Patrick Mayhew

I should like to say that there is a close relationship between the security forces of the Crown and their counterparts in the United States. Indeed, I have nothing but gratitude for the across-the-board co-operation that we receive from the American authorities.

Mr. McNamara

When the right hon. and learned Gentleman next meets the Irish Government to discuss security arrangements under the confidence-building measures of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, will he discuss the proposals for the reform of the Police Authority in Northern Ireland, in particular the distinction between security and community policing and the accountability of the Chief Constable to the authority?

Sir Patrick Mayhew

I am glad to say that I had a most fruitful and successful meeting with the authority a couple of days ago, when very broad support was expressed for the consultative document. We both looked forward to co-operating in the translating of those broad-brush concepts into the appropriate legislative language. From time to time, the relationship of the public to the police and the police to the public is discussed in the intergovernmental conferences and I have no doubt that that will continue.

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