Security (Border Areas)

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1972.

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Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson , Bradford West 12:00 am, 14th December 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will make a further statement on security in the border areas in Northern Ireland, with particular reference to the adequacy of police protection.

Photo of Mr David Howell Mr David Howell , Guildford

The security forces continue to control the border as effectively as possible. Measures have been taken to protect police stations in border areas and there is an Army presence in these stations.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson , Bradford West

In view of the remoteness of many of these police stations and the fact that as soon as practicable, from a security point of view, it would be advantageous to move over to indigenous security forces rather than to place reliance on the British Army, will my hon. Friend consult the Secretary of State for Defence on the re-establishment of No. 502 County of Ulster Auxiliary Squadron, for the patrol of the border, on the lines adopted by the Irish Republic, which has an air wing equipped with Cessna light aircraft?

Photo of Mr David Howell Mr David Howell , Guildford

I dealt with that issue in reply to earlier Questions this afternoon. The Government's view is that the UDR and the RUC Reserve provide the proper vehicles for the pursuit of security duties. My hon. Friend mentioned the Irish Republic and Irish forces. There are signs of much quicker movement and greatly welcome co-operation by both the Garda and the Irish Army in security incidents on the border.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

The hon. Gentleman will recall that a few weeks ago Opposition Members expressed great concern about the security of individual families of both communities. Is he yet in a position to tell us what steps have been taken, by the provision of such things as walkie-talkie radio sets for contacting police stations and security forces, to protect people who feel themselves isolated?

Photo of Mr David Howell Mr David Howell , Guildford

I cannot specify all the steps for what I think the House will accept as the very good reason that it would jeopardise and make more difficult the work of those who have to operate on the ground. A number of steps are still under review by both the Army and the RUC. I have said that the suggestion concerning walkie-talkie radios would be looked into. That matter has been studied very closely by both the Army and the RUC, but their view is that it would not be adequate and effective, and they are not willing to adopt it. If the hon. Gentleman would like me to write giving the full details and reasons I should be glad to do so.

Photo of Mr Stratton Mills Mr Stratton Mills , Belfast North

Will my hon. Friend consider some method of controlling the movement of vehicles in border areas?

Photo of Mr David Howell Mr David Howell , Guildford

Those matters are under review. I do not wish to give the House any details of proposals now in action because it would increase the difficulties for those working on the ground.